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NDPTC awarded volcano hazards grant from National Science Foundation

Posted on Sept. 16, 2015

The National Science Foundation has awarded the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center’s (NDPTC) staff members Bruce Houghton, Chris Gregg and Karl Kim a US$1.2 million contract to analyze and reduce uncertainty during volcanic crises in the United States.

This study will focus on two prolonged crises: one at Kīlauea volcano, Hawai‘i (since 1983) and Long Valley caldera, California (since 1976). Scientists will examine the uncertainty of volcanic activity and its impacts, from deep movements of molten rock beneath the volcanoes to decision-making processes of residents, emergency managers, and early responders in affected communities. 

NDPTC Science Director, Bruce Houghton, is leading the Kīlauea project. “Hawaii is uniquely positioned to be the site for this study,” said Houghton. “The results of this research will be fed seamlessly into enhancing our (NDPTC) educational products for our key training missions with FEMA. As new results become available from externally funded research, they will be fed into courses delivered by NDPTC and our partners.”

NDPTC Lead Course Development Program Manager, Chris Gregg, heads the social science component of study at both volcanoes. Gregg is working with the leading disaster psychologist in the U.S., Professor Mike Lindell. Gregg said, “The 2014-2015 lava flows in Hawai‘i’s Puna area demonstrate graphically the need for further research, to reduce the economic and social impacts of prolonged volcanic crises.” 

Karl Kim, Executive Director of the NDPTC, said that “The NSF study fits with our vision of the NDPTC as a Center which combines training, education, and externally funded research while building resilient communities through training and educational programs in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.”

The study is part of a larger (US$2.9 million) award granted to a consortium that includes six universities led by the University at Buffalo and is in collaboration with the Volcano Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The project uses sophisticated statistical approaches to ‘bridge’ gaps in the information available to volcanologists, emergency managers, decision makers, and the public.

For more information, contact:

Bruce Houghton, Ph.D.

(808) 220-9273

Lave Lobe

A lobe or tongue of the [June 27th] lava flow crossed Apa‘a Road in Puna on October 24, 2014, and threatened an adjacent electricity transmission line.  This lobe of the lava flow ultimately stopped in early November, 2014, just 200 m south of Pāhoa Village Road.  [USGS photograph]

Pahoa Meeting

Standing room only at a public meeting held at the Pāhoa High School. Up to in excess of 600 people were briefed each week by officials from the County of Hawai`i and scientists from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Detailed maps (e.g., [left] foreground) supplied extra information on the flow extent and direction to the public.  [USGS photograph]