Volcano Monitoring: Reducing the Risks of Volcanic Hazards for Society

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NASA LaRC scientist Dr. Jean-Paul Vernier provided an update to the Congressional Hazards Caucus on NASA Disaster Program’s response to assess and reduce the impacts to people and property for the recent volcanic eruptions of  Kilauea, Hawaii, and Fuego, Guatemala.

Dr. Vernier was accompanied by Director of Science Dave Young (LaRC), Shanna McClain (NASA HQ), Batu Osmanoglu (GSFC), and Donna Lawson (OLIA/ LaRC).

The Congressional Hazards Caucus briefing drew a record number of 65 attendees, including approximately 50 staff members representing a diverse geographic group of Congressional offices and committees.  The brief was informative and included updates from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) program coordinator for volcano hazards, Dr. Charles Mandeville,  a professor of seismology at the University of South Florida, Dr. Stephen McNutt, as well as NASA’s Disaster Coordinator for the Kilauea response efforts. USGS recognized NASA’s numerous contributions to the disaster response with technological support for lava flow direct broadcast from helicopters and UAVs, the GLISTIN aircraft mission to measure volumetric lava fields through elevation maps, satellite supports with radar, thermal imageries and air quality monitoring systems through NASA’s satellites and international partners. NASA demonstrated that the diversity of its satellite and airborne assets is key to provide a comprehensive perspective on the impacts of volcanoes from lava destruction of homes and infrastructures to reduction in air quality. Staff had several questions regarding number of active volcanoes being monitored globally, resources needed, and USGS’ use of the recent funding plus up.  Transportation committee staff asked whether data feeds into the earthquake monitoring system. Questions directed at NASA focused on air quality and monitoring of long-term impacts.