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Mendenhall Research Fellowship - Research Opportunity # 17-16. Investigation lava flow dynamics and hazards on Kilauea's Lower East Rift Zone
Effusive eruptions are common around the world and pose a hazard to populations and infrastructure. Recent examples include the 2014 lava flows from Fogo Volcano in Cape Verde that destroyed several villages, and the 2014 lava flows on Kīlauea that entered the town of Pāhoa but stalled before causing major damage. Despite this, our understanding of lava flow dynamics is not fully developed and we lack tools to precisely forecast their advance and evolution. Numerous intrinsic and extrinsic parameters have been shown to control lava flow emplacement, including effusion rate, rheology, and underlying topography. However, how the dynamics of eruptions and flow properties impact flow behavior, including flow advance rates and morphologic evolution, remains complex and challenging to quantify.
The 2018 Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) eruption of Kīlauea provides a new opportunity to characterize and understand the evolution of active lava flows with an array of modern tools. In addition to sampling and ground-based observations equivalent to past eruptions, datasets available from the 2018 LERZ eruption include daily or twice daily flow maps, thermal orthomosaic imagery, digital elevation models acquired through time from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and airborne lidar, nadir UAS video at regularly occupied sites along the active lava channel, time-lapse camera images, and ground-based video of flow features and dynamics. Corresponding geophysical and gas emissions monitoring data were also recorded in the LERZ.
The eruption presents an unprecedented research opportunity for several reasons. First, the sustained nature (over 2 months) of the Fissure 8 lava flow allowed repeated measurements over a long-time period, building a more robust dataset than is normally possible. Second, this eruption is perhaps the first time worldwide that UAS has been used in a prolonged eruption response scenario, and these efforts have produced some of the most detailed video and mapping of lava channel dynamics ever. Third, the high effusion rates of this eruption provide a rare example of high-quality benchmark data for lava flow modeling at flow rates of this scale.
Proposed Duty Station: Hilo, HI; periodic visits to Anchorage, AK, will also be required.
Areas of Ph.D.: Geology, geophysics, volcanology, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).
Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geologist; Research Geophysicist.
(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources Specialist.)
Physical/Environmental Demands: Occasional physical activities required in field assignments include walking over uneven terrain and carrying equipment up to 40 pounds and operating field equipment. Field work may involve exposure to potentially dangerous situations and exposure to moderate discomforts, such as hot temperatures and inclement weather typical of the subtropics in Hawaii. Field work will be in areas of recent and possibly active volcanism so exposure to volcanic gas, heat, and eruptive phenomena and related hazards may occur. Helicopter flying and use of a 4WD vehicle on unimproved roads may also occur. The remainder of the work will be in an office setting with some laboratory work where dust and noise are present. The employee applies a wide range of safety precautions when controlled conditions deteriorate due to unforeseen conditions or previously unknown risks.
Occasional travel - Overnight travel of 1 to 5 nights per month may be required.
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This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/515821400. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.