What’s Happening At Kilauea In Hawaii? 16 Questions With A Front-Line USGS Scientist
“I think Hawaii is a unique place on this planet. These volcanoes are well-studied and have a long, historic record. People have lived here over 1,600 years and learned how to live in harmony with active volcanoes, understanding, respecting, and in many cases, revering these wonders of nature. I think this combination of modern scientific monitoring and Hawaiian cultural appreciation for the volcanoes makes for a very supportive atmosphere where residents and scientists alike can come together in mutual admiration for the power of volcanoes. They are creating new land, for example, which is a beautiful think. The hazard can be disastrous, of course, but people need to realize that we can’t stop it. All we can do is get out of the way.”
There’s a lot of fearsome news, and a lot of impressive pictures of destruction, coming out of Hawaii these days. But in truth, this is the most well-studied set of volcanoes in the world, and the scientific response to these events has led to one of the most well-managed natural disasters in human history. Although thousands have been evacuated from their homes, no one has been killed, and injuries have been extraordinarily rare. Only a very small portion of one island has been affected, and most of the dangers facing residents are no different, property damage aside, than the dangers they’ve faced continuously over the past decade.