Volcano Watch: Legends of eruptions past

USGS photo When a water lake began forming at the base of Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kīlauea, scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory looked to Hawaiian chants for mention of a crater lake before western contact and whether it was associated with explosive eruptions.

Active volcanoes tell us their stories through earthquakes, deformation, gas emissions, and lava flows. We interpret those stories through myriad scientific instruments and record them in journals and news reports for generations to come. But what if a volcano isn’t active and hasn’t been in hundreds or even thousands of years? How can we learn their stories when now they slumber?