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Professor of Geology Greg Valentine improves preparedness of communities near U.S. volcanoes

To combat complacency and improve preparedness of communities near U.S. volcanoes, Professor of Geology Greg Valentine is leading a new research project focused on two locations: Kīlauea in the Hawaiian Islands and the Long Valley caldera and volcanic field in eastern central California. Kīlauea has been erupting continuously for more than 30 years and Long Valley — a “supervolcano” with a 20-mile- long caldera and huge explosive potential — has experienced unrest over the same period, with swarms of earthquakes rattling the area and volcanic gas rising up through the soil.

Valentine’s research, funded by a $2.9 million National Science Foundation grant, engages an interdisciplinary team to enhance disaster preparedness at both sites. His team will advance scientific understanding of the volcanoes, studying Kīlauea’s subterranean plumbing and Long Valley’s eruptive history with the goal of refining forecasts predictive of when eruptions may occur and where hazards — such as lava flows, hot gas and falling ash — could strike. The project also will examine disaster preparedness, involving social scientists to assess how well communities around Kīlauea and Long Valley are prepared today and to identify better ways of communicating information on possible hazards to the public in the future.

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