USGS volcano observatory in Hawaii awaits funds for new base

HILO — Staff members from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are settling into another temporary office in Hilo, their third move since the Kilauea volcano eruption forced the evacuation of their headquarters in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Friday that Tina Neal, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief scientist, says the relocation should be complete by the end of the month and she expects no glitches in their monitoring of active volcanos.

The agency is awaiting congressional approval of a bill that would allocate disaster recover funds and allow them to construct new headquarters. The bill, which could get a vote next week, identifies $72.3 million for repair and replacement of equipment and facilities from disasters in 2018. USGS would get funding for new headquarters under the recovery bill.

“Until that happens, we don’t have a budget to deal with, to begin to plan,” Neal said.

Neal says Hawaii Island will remain their base, even if some staff relocates to Oahu, which she says is being considered for additional technical capacity. Concerns that the U.S. Geological Survey was considering moving the facility to Oahu were initially raised by U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono in late March in questions to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

The former headquarters on Kilauea was heavily damaged during numerous collapses and earthquakes last year.

HVO has about 30 employees. A few will continue to work out of a warehouse in Keaau, where archives and some equipment are stored.

While the observatory’s new home in the Hilo Iron Works building is in the tsunami inundation zone, Neal said they mostly will occupy the second floor. Sensitive equipment will remain at the Keaau warehouse.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald,

  1. harryoyama May 19, 2019 1:18 pm Reply

    Makes you wonder after all these years of being open to both locals and visitors, of which the later has poured in $millions, buying all sorts of items from its current location, so where did this money go and why has it been included in funding its new location?

    Why should us taxpayers always be the only funding such projects, just the same as that idiot Mayor Kim thinks that we taxpayers should foot the bill of $750 million to rebuild the infrastructure of Puna district wiped out by the recent volcanic eruption, when just like in the above case, where did all that money collected from water, sewage, garbage collection as well as property taxes go to?

    Besides these people took a chance to build there when no insurance company will cover since its located in a volcano hazardous location. The real question is why should us taxpayers who do not live there, be responsible for their demise when in fact another eruption will most likely wipe it out again and leave us with that bill.

    I say just condemn it and bulldoze the entire area.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.