Jim Kauahikaua

Jim Kauahikaua

Geophysicist


U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)

Hilo, HI USA


My heart would always beat a little faster when we’d come across some sort of lava flow.

Videos

Videos

By Roadtrip Nation

Jim Kauahikaua

Highlight
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01:02
Jim Kauahikaua HighlightInterview Highlight
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03:14
InterviewThe Interview
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00:48
The Goddess PeleWeb Exclusive
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01:40
The Eruption Of A VolcanoWeb Exclusive
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00:24
My Roots Are HereInterview Excerpt
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00:20
I Knew I Wanted to be a GeologistInterview Excerpt
Milestones

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
In high school, he was interested in science; the “popular” field at the time was oceanography, so he decided to study that.
He went to the University of Southern California, where the introductory oceanography course plan included a geography class.
Right away, he was hooked on geography; he loved being able to study a rock formation and see what it’d been through.
While he was in California, he realized how lucky he’d been to grow up in Hawaii, such a geographically unique spot.
After interning with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, he returned to Hawaii.
He earned his Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, then joined the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
In 2004, he was named the 19th scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory—the first of Hawaiian ancestry.
After serving as scientist-in-charge for ten years, he transitioned back into a research position as a geophysicist.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Geology/Earth Science, General
Pomona College
graduate
Graduate
Geophysics and Seismology
University of Hawaii at Hilo
doctorate
Doctorate
Geophysics and Seismology
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Career

Career

Geophysicist

I am a research geophysicist studying volcanoes on the island of Hawai`i.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Science
Environment & Nature
Environment & Nature
Accomplishing Goals
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

I monitor the activity of Hawaiian volcanoes and then assess if they are a threat. I also have to figure out where lava flows are going, how to divert them if possible, or evacuate people if necessary.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

An understanding of basic geology is essential. It's also important to have an overall curiosity about the natural world.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Geology/Earth Science, General
graduate
Graduate
Geophysics and Seismology
doctorate
Doctorate
Geophysics and Seismology
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Why would you want to work on a volcano? Aren't you afraid of it erupting?"

Challenges I Overcame

Relocation