Mainland helps monitor Hawaii quakes, eruptions as storm-damaged observatory gets repairs

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HONOLULU, Hawaii – U.S. Geographical Service outposts in other states are helping monitor Hawaii’s volcanoes and earthquakes while work is done to repair Tropical Storm Iselle’s damage to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Violent winds slammed the observatory early Friday, causing power problems and other damage to the computer system. The problems have caused disruptions to eruption updates, webcam imagery, earthquake data and other information normally available on the observatory’s website, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://ow.ly/Aigfc).

Officials say complete restoration of the station perched on the rim of Kilauea Caldera at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is expected this week. In the meantime, the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado, is tracking Hawaii’s larger earthquakes, while USGS volcanologists in Alaska and Virginia are keeping watch via satellite imagery.

Winds also damaged 10 monitoring field instruments, said Kevan Kamibayashi, chief technician. A technician carrying a replacement part to repair a blown-out control circuit board was expected to arrive Wednesday, he said.

Crews had to use a helicopter Tuesday to reach and repair a radio repeater site on the east slope of Mauna Loa that workers normally are able to drive to. A tree lying across the road cut off access, officials said.

The observatory staff “includes a very capable technical support group, which has designed our field sites to withstand hurricane-force winds and Hilo-style rains, and their efforts have really paid off,” said scientist-in-charge Jim Kauahikaua.

If scientists observe any significant change in volcanic or seismic activity, the observatory will notify Hawaii County Civil Defence and other emergency responders.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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