Excerpts from the Report of the Hawaiian Volcano observatory Jan.-Mch., 1912.--Published by the Society of Arts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston.
THE Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, now in operation for five years from July 1, 1912, under the direction of the Department of Geology of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the result and culmination of a succession of investigations, constructions, appointments, and expeditions, mostly under that institution, which began in 1898 with the building of a small geodetic observatory in Boston. The work has been concerned with geodesy, astronomy, magnetism, and geology, and has been partly Under the direction of officers of the Department of Civil Engineering and partly under professors of geology. The result of this activity that had the most direct bearing on the establishment of the volcano observatory was its influence on the trustees of the Whitney estates, who, on July 1, 1900 gave to the Institute the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) as a memorial of Edward and Caroline Rogers Whitney of Boston, for the conduct of research
or teaching in geophysics to include investigations in seismology, conducted with a view to the protection of human life and property, present preference being that some investigations in geophysics be undertaken in Hawaii.
The purpose of the science of geophysics is to investigate all the physical and chemical processes going on in the earth. Recent disasters such as Messina and San Francisco have shown how defective, for humane and practical purposes, our knowledge of these processes is. Before the intervention of the Whitney trustees, it had been the desire of the Institute to secure a volcanic site in order to observe the local activities of a particular volcano, as well as the waves which pass through the earth from distant earthquakes. Professor Jaggar had, for sometime past, been investigating and considering this subject.
After mature deliberation Professor Jaggar concluded that Kilauea affords the best point for the location of the proposed observatory among those places in the world which have come to his knowledge, for the following reasons:
"1. At other volcanoes the eruptions are more explosive and an observatory located close enough to the centre of activity is in some danger. Kilauea, while displaying great and varied activity, is relatively safe.
"2. Other volcanoes are more or less connected
in chains, making many stations necessary in order to determine the relations of the different craters to each other. Kilauea and Mauna Loa form an isolated centre of activity over 2,000 miles from the nearest active vent, so that the phenomena of these two vents can be recorded without complications occasioned by other nearby centres.
"3. Kilauea is very accessible. The near-by harbor at Hilo is only thirty-one miles distant; it may be reached by railroad and a good driveway, and Honolulu, a centre of traffic and science, is easily reached in a day.
"4. The Central Pacific position is unique, and is of advantage for recording distant earthquakes through the uninterrupted sea floor which lies between Hawaii and many earthquake places such as South America, Mexico, and Japan. For expeditions in case of disaster or otherwise, a relatively short route is assured, with abundant means of transportation to Pacific and East Indian ports. For the study of the deep sea floor, Hawaii is obviously favorable.
"5. The climate is uniform and the air clear for astronomical work.
"6. There are frequent small earthquakes, which are of great interest for technical reasons.
"7. The remarkable distribution of both hot and cold underground waters in Hawaii needs
careful study, and this has an important bearing on agriculture as well as upon science.
"8. The territory is American, and these volcanoes are famous in the history of science for their remarkably liquid lavas and nearly continuous activity."
Professor Jaggar consequently advised those interested:
"1. To erect buildings on the brink of the Volcano of Kilauea, in which to house the instruments, library, and offices for working up and tabulating the statistics, records, and information obtained.
"2. To set apart a room for a local museum, to exhibit to visitors instruments, plans, diagrams, maps, and photographs. This will be of value in exciting interest with a view to securing an endowment.
"3. To welcome advanced students from either the Institute or other institutions for special work in the laboratory.
"4. To erect subordinate instrument stations, with self-recording instruments, and to employ voluntary observers, at various points hereafter to be determined. It is hoped that eventually some work will be done by the staff of the observatory in the study of tides, soundings, earthquake waves, and the movements of the coast line of the island.
"5. To send expeditions to other volcanic and earthquake belts for comparative studies,
"6. To carry on research, as may seem expedient, in terrestrial gravitation, magnetism, and variation of latitude.
"7. To make a geological survey of the Island of Hawaii. It is hoped that this will lead to a thorough survey of the whole territory by the United States Geological Survey."
He added that the main object of all the work should be humanitarian--earthquake prediction and methods of protecting life and property on the basis of sound scientific achievement.
"Results obtained in connection with all subjects of investigation should be promptly published in the form of bulletins and memoirs."
In pursuit of these ideas, Professor Jaggar proceeded to enlist support from the Chamber of Commerce and the leading citizens of Honolulu. A generous response came from a number of organizations, including the Bishop Museum and individuals.
The total amount promised was $3,450 per year for a period of five years. This sum was not sufficient to do the work satisfactorily and the development of the plan was halted in consequence.
--The subscription of the Bishop Museum was made upon the condition that the Institute shall
furnish the trustees without expense except for transportation, samples of all museum specimens collected, properly described, also copies of all published maps, surveys, and literature made by the Institute in connection with Hawaiian interests.--
In the course of a journey to Japan Mr. Jaggar visited the volcano Kilauea in Hawaii twice, in March and in July, 1909. Professor Daly spent the summer in the Hawaiian Islands, making careful study of Kilauea and the result of his work has since been published in vol. 47, no. 3, of the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences under the title, "The Nature of Volcanic Action." Both of these expeditions were at private expense.
In 1910 the first available income of the Whitney fund was used in the construction of special resistance thermometers made by Leeds and Northrup at Baltimore under the direction of Drs. A. L. Day and E. S. Shepherd of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Dr. Day, director of this laboratory, in correspondence with Professors Daly and Jaggar during the winter of 1909-10 agreed to send Dr. Shepherd to Kilauea and provide travelling expenses if the Institute of Technology would provide instruments and living expenses during a stay at the Volcano House devoted to measurement
of the temperature of liquid lava. Dr. Shepherd is a chemist and a specialist in pyrometric work. With the aid of Institute engineers a cableway was designed for spanning the inner pit of Halemaumau wherewith by a wire trolley system pyrometric apparatus might be lowered into the lava.
During 1909 and 1910 three seismographs, in addition to the Bosch-Omori instruments already obtained with Whitney funds, were constructed for the Institute in Tokyo under Dr. Omori's direction, and shipped to Honolulu.
For two years in succession, 1910 and 1911, it was impossible for any of the professors of geology at the Institute to go to Hawaii, so arrangements were made with Mr. F. A. Perret of Springfield, Mass., and Naples, Italy, to take Professor Jaggar's place in an expedition to Kilauea for the measurement of temperatures as agreed with the Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory. The sum of $2,100 from the Whitney and other geological research funds of the Institute was expended on this expedition. The Institute is indebted to the Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory for co-operation and for the thermo-element which was used in the final test, and to the Volcanic Research Society of Springfield, Mass., for the loan of the services of Mr. Perret, his salary being continued by that
society during his Hawaiian journey. Mr. Perret built a wooden camp on the edge of the pit Halemaumau which he called the Technology Station and where he lived.
It will appear from the foregoing that the work bearing on a proposed volcano observatory in Hawaii up to 1912 was instituted and carried forward by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That institution was materially aided in the conduct of this work by voluntary subscription among citizens of Honolulu.
Some $6,100, in addition to salaries, was spent by the Institute of Technology for its officers for work in Hawaii prior to 1912, and after Mr. Perret's departure in November, 1911, an appropriation of $1,700 for Professor Jaggar's work in Hawaii in the winter of 1912 was made from Technology funds.
The subscription fund provided for in Honolulu in 1909 was revived on October 5, 1911, at a luncheon at the University Club, given for the organization of a Hawaiian Volcano Research Association.
The net result of this meeting was to establish an association in Honolulu for the subscription of money to volcano research. The committee representative of this association determined to name the organization "Hawaiian Volcano Research Association." Funds for the
running expense of an observatory on Hawaii to the amount of $5,000 annually for five years from January 1, 1912, exclusive of the funds furnished by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were subscribed, the full amount in the event of failure on the part of individual subscribers being guaranteed by Mr. Clarence H. Cooke, treasurer, through the generosity of Mr. Cooke and his associates of the estate of C. M. Cooke, Ltd.
The Institute was prepared to co-operate with the Hawaiian Volcano Research Association by becoming its largest subscriber for the five years, through the income of the Whitney fund and the current payment to its Seismological fund.
On January 19 a subscription was started in the town of Hilo to provide funds wherewith to build a laboratory near the Volcano House for the use of the representative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology engaged in volcanic research. This proposal met a most hearty response and within a few days $1,785 was subscribed.
The land for the Observatory, a tract of about three acres, was obtained on a sub-lease for fifteen years to October 1, 1927, from the Volcano House Company with the consent of the trustees of the Bishop Estate, the owners of the land. This tract is on the edge of the cliff directly
opposite the grounds of the Volcano House on the south side of the Puna-Kau road. The observatory is built of Oregon pine and is equipped with two laboratories, the director's room, photographic dark room, and storeroom on the main floor. A veranda extending along two sides commands extensive views of the three volcanoes, Kilauea, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea. In front there is a concrete post for geodetic and photographic experiments. The furniture includes large cases of drawers, for storage of specimens, maps, or photographs, and there are work and drafting tables.
The Whitney Laboratory of Seismology, eighteen feet square, is a basement room of concrete floored on the solid ledge of basalt. This is the rock of the upper-most layer of the cliff which here borders the greater crater of Kilauea. The cellar was dug through 5½ feet of ash and pumice which make the surface soil. The piers for seismographs were designed for a set of instruments built in Tokyo in 1910 under the direction of Professor Omori and purchased with the income of the Whitney fund.
On January 24,1912, Mr. F. B. Dodge of Honolulu arrived at the volcano to become assistant to the director and during the ensuing weeks arrangements were completed and trigonometric
stations installed whereby a daily survey of the active lava pool could be made.
The Territorial Government loaned the services of a part of the prison gang which does the road work for the Territory of Hawaii, to clear the land, dig the cellar, and build the roadway of the Observatory.
An additional hut constructed wholly without iron for possible magnetic work was built on the verge of Halemaumau for direct instrumental observations of the lava, under shelter.
The fundamental idea expressed at the time of the formation of the Hawaiian Volcano Research Association was to the effect that the crater observations should be continuous and permanent. From the point of view of the educator, however, there is another equally vital work to be accomplished by such an experiment station as the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, namely, provision for scientific hospitality. The study of geophysics and geochemistry in the field is so extensive and inclusive a department of science that no resident staff could hope to cover the whole field without large expense and a very large working force. Moreover the spirit of generous exchange of opportunity and of ideas in science, with a liberal welcome to serious students of all schools, is modern and novel, and should
promote the most rapid progress. Accordingly it is proposed in the Hawaiian Observatory to combine two objects, record of facts of volcanology and seismology by the permanent staff, and surveys in the field of special topics by expert specialists invited to come from other institutions.