Perched on the edge of the rim of the massive Kilauea Caldera atop the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is a research center for scientists who study Hawaii volcanoes.
Located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Observatory is managed by the the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory uses modern electronic equipment to monitor earthquakes from numerous sites and also has live cameras covering ongoing eruptions.
The Observatory was established in 1912 by MIT professor Thomas A. Jagger and is credited with helping to found the modern science of volcanology. Today the Observatory has an international reputation as a leader in the study of active volcanism.
Also monitored by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are the sulphur emissions known as vog (volcanic gas). Advisories are issued by the National Park Service when certain areas need to be closed off to the public due to the hazard created by the emissions.
The main Observatory building is not open to the general public but right next door is the Jagger Museum which provides displays and interpretive exhibits about the history and behavior of volcanoes as well as great views of Halemaumau Crater.
To reach the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory from Hilo follow the Mamalahoa Hwy. (Hwy. 11) to just past the 28-mile marker where the left turn lane leads to the park entrance. Follow Crater Rim Drive for two miles.
To reach the Observatory from Kailua-Kona follow Hwy. 11 to just past the 29 Mile Marker, turn right into the park and follow Crater Rim Drive for two miles to the Observatory. Nearby to the Observatory is the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Volcano House Hotel.