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Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief scientist stepping down

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The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief scientist will step aside next month to focus on research.

Jim Kauahikaua has been the observatory’s scientist-in-charge for more than 11 years. That’s the third-longest tenure in the observatory’s century-long history.

He is the first person of Hawaiian ancestry to serve in the role.

He will remain on staff as a research geophysicist. Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb said Thursday he’s keen to return to research.

Babb says the observatory will announce his successor next week.

Kauahikaua oversaw the expansion and digitalization of the observatory’s monitoring networks.

He coordinated the agency’s response to the explosive opening of a vent at Kilauea volcano’s summit in 2008. More recently, he led its response to the lava flow that began threatening Pahoa last year.

The observatory is part of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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