lava flowing from eruption of the Kilauea volcano

Geology Lecture Series – A Seismic Doubleheader: The 2018 Kilauea Eruption and Seismology with Your Ears

Anne Matthews News

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College’s popular Geology Lecture Series concludes for the 2020-21 academic year with a seismic double header, The 2018 Kilauea Eruption followed by Seismology with Your Ears, starting at 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 11, 2021. 

Talks may be viewed online live via Livestream at the college website ( A Q&A session with the speakers (advance questions may be sent to Ron Metzger at: [email protected]) will follow the talks. All lectures are archived for later viewing. 

Our first speaker is Dr. Guoqinq Lin (University of Miami) on “The 2018 Kilauea Volcano Eruption: Expected or a Surprise?”. Dr. Guoqing Lin is a Professor at the University of Miami. She received her B.S. from Peking University, China, and Ph.D. degree from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. Prior to her current position, she was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kilauea volcano in Hawai‘i is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) operates an extensive seismic network to monitor and investigate hazards from active volcanoes and earthquakes on the Island of Hawai‘i. Seismic investigations have considerable potential for addressing key issues regarding the evolution of volcanic and tectonic activity in Hawai‘i. Specifically, what is the relationship between crustal stress changes and past and future seismic and volcanic events? To what extent are stress changes explained by known events and how predictive are they of future events? 

In 2018, Kilauea experienced its largest Lower East Rift Zone eruption and caldera collapse in the past 200 years. This activity provided an unprecedented opportunity for seismologists to investigate the interactions between seismic and magmatic processes and for the general community to learn how seismologists use earthquake data to monitor volcanoes. In this talk, Dr. Lin will present the seismic activity in Kilauea based on the 33 years of HVO records and focus on the changes in earthquake distribution, seismic wave speeds, and stress field before and after the 2018 eruption. She will also review the geological setting and volcanic activity of Kilauea volcano along with other volcanoes on the Big Island. 

Our second speaker is Dr. Ben Holtzman (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University) on “Seismology with your Ears: Listening to Patterns in Tectonic, Volcanic and Human-induced Earthquakes?”. Dr. Holtzman is the founder of the Seismic Sound Lab (, developed the SeismoDome program at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, and is Scientist-in-Residence at the Computer Music Center at Columbia University. He studied Geology as an undergraduate at Brown University, received his Ph.D. in Geophysics at the University of Minnesota. Every earthquake emits seismic waves that spread from the ruptured part of a fault. Scientists use these waves to locate and study the earthquake, and also to build an image of the Earth’s interior. Over time, we accumulate “catalogs” of past earthquakes. Listening to seismic data by “speeding up” the waves to shift them into our audible range, a process called sonification, can help us perceive patterns in data that could otherwise be missed. 

In this presentation, Dr. Holtzman will weave together many short movies – animations with sonified seismic waves – to demonstrate the rich and complex patterns of natural tectonic and volcanic earthquakes and then contrast them to patterns of human-induced earthquakes. California earthquakes convey a sense of the nearly constant, but random, seismic activity of an active tectonic fault. Earthquakes associated with volcanic eruptions have a very different variety of sounds and patterns. We will compare the incredible sequence of earthquakes in Kilauea, Hawai‘i during its 2018 eruption and contrast these with other eruptions. Finally, we will look at human-induced earthquakes associated with energy production. Listening to the differences between human-induced and tectonic earthquakes raises many important societal questions. In Oklahoma, a dramatic rise in earthquake occurrences was caused by injection of wastewater from shale gas extraction. In contrast, the extraction of geothermal energy, a CO2-free resource, also produces earthquakes but with minimal risk of groundwater contamination. All energy production comes with costs and risks to society, but how do we define and focus our concerns on the most critical ones? De-mystifying earthquake patterns through sonification can help in that direction. 

Both speakers are Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology/Seismological Society of America distinguished lecturers.

All lectures in the series are free. Current planning for the 2021-22 series is underway, with the hope to be back with live presentations. Lecture Series Sponsors include: DB Western, Southwestern Foundation, The Mill Casino, IRIS/SSA, Ocean Discovery Lecture Series, and the College. For additional information (or to submit questions prior to the talk) contact Ron Metzger at [email protected] or 541-888-7216.