Volcano Hazards Program

U.S. Volcanoes Activity Alerts Map[5]
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The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Hazards Program monitors active and potentially active volcanoes, assesses their hazards, responds to volcanic crises, conducts research on how volcanoes work, and collects scientific information on volcanoes in the United States and elsewhere to reduce the risk from volcanic activity.

The Volcano Hazards Program also supports the work of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) through a mobile monitoring and response system. The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program responds to volcanic crises around the world. The aim of the program is to assist in saving lives and property, to reduce economic losses, and to prevent a natural hazard becoming a natural disaster.[1]

Regional Observatories

The USGS Volcano Hazards Program has five regional observatories in Alaska, California, Oregon, Hawai`i. and Yellowstone National Park:

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) is a joint program of the USGS, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAFGI), and the State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS). AVO was formed in 1988, and uses federal, state, and university resources to monitor and study Alaska's hazardous volcanoes, to predict and record eruptive activity, and to mitigate volcanic hazards to life and property. AVO offices are in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. The Anchorage office is at the USGS, and is the primary point of information dissemination during crises.[2]

The California Volcano Observatory (CalVO), headquartered within existing USGS facilities in Menlo Park, CA, has responsibility for monitoring all volcanoes in the states of California and Nevada. CalVO replaces the former Long Valley Observatory, established in 1982 to monitor the restless Long Valley Caldera and Mono-Inyo Craters region of California. The creation of CalVO will improve coordination with federal, state, and local emergency managers during volcanic crises, and create new opportunities for volcanic hazard awareness and preparedness. The list of potentially threatening volcanoes on CalVO's watch list includes Mount Shasta, Medicine Lake Volcano, Clear Lake Volcanic Field, and Lassen Volcanic Center in northern California; Long Valley Caldera and Mono-Inyo Craters in east-central California; Salton Buttes, Coso Volcanic Field, and Ubehebe Craters in southern California; and Soda Lakes in central Nevada.[3]

The Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) strives to serve the public interest by helping people to live knowledgeably and safely with volcanoes in Washington (WA), Oregon (OR), and Idaho (ID) and other natural hazards including earthquakes, landslides, and debris flows, in the western United States and elsewhere in the world. Their goal is to provide accurate and timely information pertinent to the assessment, warning, and mitigation of natural hazards. They assess hazards before they occur by identifying and studying past hazardous events, their products, ages, and areas that would be affected by similar events in the future.[4]

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is a volcano observatory located at Uwekahuna Bluff on the rim of Kīlauea Caldera on the Island of Hawai'i. The observatory monitors four active Hawaiian volcanoes: Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Hualālai, and Haleakalā. Because Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are significantly more active than Hualālai and Haleakalā, much of the observatory's research is concentrated on the former two mountains. The observatory has a worldwide reputation as a leader in the study of active volcanism. Due to the relatively non-explosive nature of Hawaiian volcanic eruptions, scientists can study on-going eruptions in proximity without being in extreme danger.[5]

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory monitors and studies the active geologic processes and hazards of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field and its caldera. The Observatory is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Utah, and the Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park contains the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world. YVO also monitors volcanic activity in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.[6]



  1. United States Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Hazards Program – Website: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/
  2. Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) – Website: http://www.avo.alaska.edu
  3. California Volcano Observatory – Website: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/calvo/
  4. Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) – Website: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/
  5. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – Website: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/
  6. Yellowstone Volcano Observatory – Website: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/yvo/
  7. Image Source: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ [Accessed july 20, 2013]