HVO thanks unsung champions of maintenance


Most successful organizations are supported by a cadre of dedicated and skilled staff who work largely behind the scenes to maintain field equipment, vehicles and buildings that support its core operations. This includes maintaining mechanical and electrical systems, communication networks, computer technology and daily custodial needs.

As a result, everyone else on staff can pursue their work with little concern as to whether the buildings are safe and clean, field stations are working as designed, back-up power systems are fully operational, roofs and windows are leak-free and air conditioners that cool critical systems are working properly.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is no different.

In 2012, our technical support staff completed the most aggressive improvement and expansion of the volcano monitoring networks in the history of HVO. Since 2009, more than 100 existing monitoring stations were upgraded with new instruments, radios and power systems, and dozens of new stations were installed.

This leap in monitoring capability was made possible by the 2009 American Restoration and Recovery Act, which provided $3.1 million for HVO to purchase state–of-the-art instruments and radio systems and to hire several temporary employees to help install them.

These monitoring improvements were described by Kevan Kamibayashi, HVO’s lead technician, in an “After Dark in the Park” program in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during Volcano Awareness Month in January. His talk can be viewed online at nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/after-dark-2013.htm.

Also critical to the success of HVO are the employees of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park who facilitate our volcano science and research within the park by maintaining the buildings and infrastructure that we depend on to do our work.

All of HVO’s ARRA-funded monitoring stations required updated or new permits to ensure minimal or no harmful effects to the natural and cultural resources in the national park. The “footprints” of many stations were reduced with smaller power requirements, instrument enclosures and cabling needs. Prompt attention to the permit applications by park employees meant we were able to meet the deadlines required by ARRA.

When, in 1986, HVO was provided a new office and laboratory building and remodeled workshop, its maintenance requirements significantly increased as the facility more than doubled in size, and its new mechanical systems required regular service. Much of this work was ably performed by the skilled craftspeople from the national park’s maintenance team.

Among HVO’s most valued maintenance “champions” was the late John McClelland. As the park’s electrician, McClelland maintained HVO’s mechanical and electrical systems for more than a decade. He was essentially on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to emergency facility issues at HVO and in the park, including all power failures and fire alarm alerts, to ensure that all systems came back online properly and were in good working order.

McClelland had an inspiring “can-do” attitude with every challenge he faced at HVO. His broad experience in construction meant he was a jack-of-all-trades and could efficiently solve almost every problem that arose. He also provided valuable advice on a wide range of facility issues, especially when significant upgrades were needed. His work ethic was second to none, and his dedication to support HVO with a confident smile was widely appreciated by all.

Sadly, McClelland passed away last month, but his friendship, laughter and generous spirit will be fondly remembered by the entire HVO staff.

Mahalo to all the unsung champions, who over the years, have maintained HVO’s multitude of instruments, equipment, buildings and infrastructure. You have made all the difference for the HVO staff.

Kilauea activity update

A lava lake within the Halemaumau Overlook vent produced nighttime glow visible from the Jaggar Museum overlook and via HVO’s webcam during the past week. The lake level fluctuated slightly in response to summit deflation-inflation events but was generally about 100 feet below the floor of Halemaumau.

On Kilauea’s east rift zone, surface lava flows remain active about 0.6 miles out from the base of the pali, as well as near the coast. Weak ocean entries scattered along the sea cliff remain active on both sides of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park boundary. At Puu Oo, lava erupting from a complex of spatter cones on the northeast side of the crater floor — the former site of a small lava lake — travels down the northeastern flank of the Puu Oo cone via an incipient lava tube. This lava is feeding a slow-moving pahoehoe flow spreading at the northern base of the cone. Also, a patch of surface flows was active about three miles southeast of Puu Oo, above the pali.

There was one earthquake felt recently on the island. A magnitude-3.1 earthquake occurred at 6:44 p.m. Feb. 5 and was located six miles southeast of Hookena at a depth of 18 miles.

Visit hvo.wr.usgs.gov for Volcano Awareness Month details and Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes and more; call 967-8862 for a Kilauea summary; email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.