Volcano observatory will remain on Hawaii island

HONOLULU (AP) — A federal volcano observatory has committed to remaining on Hawaii island, officials said.

The U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which monitors active volcanoes in the state, said the station will remain on the Big Island, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono announced the commitment Thursday after a meeting with geologic survey Director Jim Reilly.

The announcement followed concerns the observatory would permanently move to Oahu after it was displaced by the Kilauea eruption that began in May 2018.

The observatory’s headquarters on the rim of Kilauea’s summit caldera at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was badly damaged during the eruption due to numerous caldera collapses, which resulted in hundreds of earthquakes.

Staff temporarily worked from the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus on the Big Island.

“The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is an integral part of the Hawaii island community, as we saw when HVO scientists worked around the clock with first responders to provide critical information during last year’s volcanic activity,” Hirono said in a statement. “It just makes sense that this critical agency remains anchored on Hawaii island.”

In March, Hirono urged then-acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt during his confirmation hearing to incorporate feedback from Hawaii island residents and Hawaii’s congressional delegation before making a decision about moving the facility to Oahu.

The geological survey is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.