Postcard from Hawaii – Too Many Bananas!

A third bunch of bananas in as many weeks! Yeah, just a few too many bananas around here. Did the cooler weather bring them all on at once? Look for bunches of apple bananas in the Kohala break room at work tomorrow!

In the meantime… Banana smoothies! Two bananas, a cup of plain yogurt, a bit of milk to thin out the mixture, a handful of ice cubes, and a couple heaping spoonfuls of my sister-in-laws strawberry jam. Blend and enjoy!

Bananas
A bunch of apple bananas from the backyard banana patch

Postcard from the Summit – Snowy SMA

Winter has arrived on Mauna Kea. the last few weeks have brought regular snow, ice and fog to the summit. Quite a few nights have been completely or partially lost to weather. We always wonder what winter will bring. In the last few years I have seen winters with hardly a lost night, and no substantial snowfall. Other winters I have helped dig our way into the building. What the winter of 2011-2012 will bring? We will just deal with what Poli’ahu delivers.

Snowy SMA
The SMA antennas in snow and fog

A Perfect Day for a Dive

It really was one of those perfect days to live in Hawaii.

First stop on the way was to get some air. Our tanks were empty, something we needed to change. This was accomplished at The Scuba Shack, a great dive shop just below Costco on the Kaloko business park. It is a funky place, with anything and everything a diver needs. One of the best services offered is quick fills… In and out in about five minutes with two full tanks of air, $5 each.

Relaxing After the Dive
Relaxing after the dive at O’oma, Patti, Mark, Deb and Kirk (left to right)
We met up with the usual gang at O’oma. Mark had suggested we try a dive just north of what the surfers call Pine Trees. The area is classic Big Island beach… Drive along the shore over sand and lava, check out the surfers enjoying a small swell over the breaks, smell the barbeques from families set up for a weekend on the beach.

Continue reading “A Perfect Day for a Dive”

Shaken and Back On-Sky

I understand it was quite the scramble, but both telescopes are back on-sky tonight.

The earthquakes started just after two this afternoon with the magnitude 4.5 event that got our attention so quickly. This gave day crew three hours to have everything inspected, checked out and ready for the night. Physical inspections, instrument checkouts, and more, an extensive checklist to follow and insure that no real damage was done by the temblors. Just after 5pm we got word that everything was good-to-go and both telescopes would be released for the night’s observing.

As of writing this, about ten hours after the first quake, there have been 32 separate events under Mauna Kea detected by the seismographs. A half dozen of those were near magnitude three. I have felt thirteen separate aftershocks, this plus the original quake makes fourteen, the most I have ever felt in a single day by a wide margin.

The USGS has released a statement noting that this was probably a “structural adjustment” a result of the enormous weight of Mauna Kea stressing the underlying rock…

Magnitude 4.5 earthquake on the north flank of Mauna Kea

By USGS/HVO

Hawai‘i Island, HAWAII—The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.5 earthquake located beneath the Island of Hawai‘i on Wednesday, October 19, at 2:10 p.m. HST. This earthquake was centered about 9 km (6 mi) northwest of Mauna Kea’s summit and 49 km (31 mi) west-northwest of Hilo, at a depth of 18.7 km (11.6 mi).

The earthquake was widely felt on the Island of Hawai’i. The USGS “Did you feel it?” Web site (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/dyfi/) received more than 500 felt reports within an hour of the earthquake.

The earthquake was the largest in a cluster of about 20 earthquakes on the north flank of Mauna Kea on Wednesday afternoon. Most of these aftershocks were too small to be felt, but, as of 3:30 p.m., two earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 3.0 had occurred in addition to the magnitude-4.5 event.

Over the past 25 years, the north flank of Mauna Kea has experienced 10 earthquakes greater than magnitude 4.0, including today’s event, at depths of 10–40 km (6–25 mi). Deep earthquakes in this region are most likely caused by structural adjustments within the Earth’s crust due to the heavy load of Mauna Kea.

Adjustments beneath Mauna Kea during past similar events, such as in March 2010, have produced a flurry of earthquakes, with many small aftershocks occurring for days after the main quake. Given this history, it is possible that additional small earthquakes may be recorded in the coming days.

Today’s earthquakes caused no detectable changes on the continuing eruption of Kilauea Volcano.

For eruption updates and information on recent earthquakes in Hawai’i, visit the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov

More Shaking

This is starting to look ominous! Nineteen events so far and counting, it seems the building rattles every 10-20min with another aftershock. Will it please settle down?

Word is that Keck1 is fine, we are scheduled to do some engineering with the AO laser. The laser itself is still on and operational, a minor miracle. There may be some issues with Keck 2 after the initial quake. We are waiting for a more detailed report from the summit crew.

Earthquake Swarm
An ongoing earthquake swarm underneath Mauna Kea, 19Oct 2011

Shaking Waimea

Ok? That was fun. A fairly serious quake right underneath us. A preliminary mag 4.5 centered between town and the summit of Mauna Kea. The building was shaking pretty good, with a series of hard and sharp shocks. I felt at least three aftershocks, though the USGS website shows five additional events in quick succession at much the same location and depth.

We had a few minutes to enjoy a beautiful sunny day in Waimea, as all of the Keck staff waited outside for the shaking to stop.

Postcard from the Summit – Sunrise Panorama

Watching sunrise from the summit of Mauna Kea is often the highlight of many visitor’s trip to the island. Any given morning will see a handful of tour vans and rental Jeeps atop the summit ridge awaiting the first glint of sunlight. A small crowd of camera wielding tourists mill about, gazing at the spectacle or huddle in vehicles to avoid the bitter wind.

I do occasionally stop to watch myself. While the telescope operators head for breakfast down below. I stop and join the crowd for a few minutes. Sometimes you just have to take a moment and enjoy the privilege of working in a place like Mauna Kea.

Click on the image for a better appreciation of what it is like to be there… Without the wind.

Sunrise Panorama
Sunrise seen from the summit of Mauna Kea, panorama assembled from ten separate frames.

Another Saddle Road Wreck

Saddle Road is still Saddle.

Despite millions of dollars spent repaving, or outright rebuilding this road, some of the old Saddle still exists. While the road is vastly better than is has ever been, no amount of rebuilding can completely eliminate the hazards of dense fog, wild animals, and the other conditions that make this road unique.

This particular curve seems to claim at least one car each year. I have seen three other wrecks here, including at least two other vehicles upside down within feet of where this Toyota rests. And those are only the ones I have seen, not counting the number of times the fence has been crushed amongst a litter of vehicle parts. At least this time the injuries were mostly inflicted on the vehicle, the police officer I spoke with indicated that the passengers were quite lucky.

I have a fair collection of wreck photos taken along the commute up and down the mountain. A reminder to take the roads of Mauna Kea seriously.

Saddle Road Wreck
A vehicle rolled into a pasture along Saddle Road near Kilohana