USGS logo US Department of Interior , US Geological Survey / Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

What does this program measure?

We are measuring ground tilt and area-strain associated with volcanic processes. The units for tilt are microradians, and for strain are parts per billion (ppb).

How does this program work?

Three holes more than 100 m deep will be drilled into Mauna Loa. In each hole is an ultra-sensitive strainmeter and a seismic package consisting of a three-component broadband seismometer and a strong-motion sensor. Electronic borehole tilt-and-strain meters may be added high in each hole. This project operates continuously.

Why is this research important?

Both measurements are done to monitor volcanic activity and to enable research into the dynamics of magma emplacement and propagation.

Are there any trends in the data?

Mauna Loa has been relatively quiet since installation. The predominant signal is from seasonal temperature changes that induce very small - but perceptible - changes in the ground surface.

How does this program fit into the big picture?

What is it's role in global climate change?

The instruments monitor an active volcano, potentially a large carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitter. Nearby Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983 and is the largest producer of sulfur dioxide in the US.

Comments and References

Lead Investigator(s):

Peter Cervelli (HVO)

MLO Contact(s):

Dr. John E. Barnes
808-933-6965 (x222)
Darryl Kuniyuki
808-933-6965 (x236)

Web Site(s)

Date Started


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