Volcanic hazards on the Island of Hawaii

Open-File Report 74-239




Volcanic hazards on the Island of Hawaii have been determined to be chiefly products of eruptions: lava flows, falling fragments, gases, and particle-and-gas clouds. Falling fragments and particle-and-gas clouds can be substantial hazards to life, but they are relatively rare. Lava flows are the chief hazard to property; they are frequent and cover broad areas. Rupture, subsidence, earthquakes, and sea waves (tsunamis) caused by eruptions are minor hazards; those same events caused by large-scale crustal movements, however, are major hazards to both life and property. Volcanic hazards are greatest on Mauna Loa and Kilauea, and the risk is highest along the rift zones of those volcanoes. The hazards are progressively less severe on Hualalai, Mauna Kea, and Kohala volcanoes. Some risk from earthquakes extends across the entire island, and the risk from tsunamis is high all along the coast. The island has been divided into geographic zones of different relative risk for each volcanic hazard, and for all those hazards combined. Each zone is assigned a relative risk for that area as a whole; the degree of risk varies within the zones, however, and in some of them the risk decreases gradationally across the entire zone. Moreover, the risk in one zone may be locally as great or greater than that at some points in the zone of next higher overall risk. Nevertheless, the zones can be highly useful for land-use planning. Planning decisions to which the report is particularly applicable include the selection of kinds of structures and kinds of land use that are appropriate for the severity and types of hazards present. For example, construction of buildings that can resist a lava flow is generally not feasible, but it is both feasible and desirable to build structures that can resist falling rock fragments, earthquakes, and tsunamis in areas where risk from those hazards is relatively high. The report can also be used to select sites where overall risk is relatively low, to identify sites where either overall risk or risk from some specific hazard is relatively high, and to identify areas in which there is a threat to lives as well as to property. The report further can serve as a basis for warning persons about hazards in areas most likely to be affected by volcanic eruptions. Perhaps most important, however, the report provides basic information needed for zoning to control future land use.

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USGS Numbered Series
Volcanic hazards on the Island of Hawaii
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey],
61 p., 2 sheets, :ill., maps (some folded) ;27 cm.