Volcano center loses 5 staffers
The shortage comes from retirements and routine transfers
HILO » When trying to solve a puzzle, it's useful to have a variety of minds working on the problem. Right now, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is short about five minds.
With two retirements and three staff scientists having moved to other locations, the observatory is down to 25 scientists from the 30 it had last year, said observatory head Jim Kauahikaua.
"I don't feel it's a major crisis. We can function with the people we have here," Kauahikaua said. "It's not that we're hobbled by losses. We're working pretty hard to keep up with it."
But the unusual bulging of Kilauea Volcano's summit area is one example where more minds could help.
"We may not have the critical mass to discuss various data sets," Kauahikaua said.
Computer specialist Wil Tanigawa and geologist Christina Heliker retired this year. British scientists Marie Edmonds and Ricky Heard, who were here on temporary assignments, went home to the United Kingdom. Seismologist Stewart Koyanagi went to work for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
One scientist who dropped out of view but remains at the observatory is Don Swanson.
Head of the observatory until 2004, Swanson continued until last month as the anonymous "observer" who made daily, pre-dawn reports ranging from lava flows to American Indian names for the full moon.
Swanson explained why he did it for seven years. "It was, purely and simply, because I wanted to tell you about the eruption, the only one of its kind in the world."