As the Kilauea volcano continues to erupt in Hawaii, there is material loss but not a loss of human life. Thanks to Thomas Jaggar (January 24, 1871 – January 17, 1953), Hawaiians are safe. Jaggar was a volcanologist who founded the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to keep people safe and sound from volcanoes and earthquakes.
After acquiring his PHD in geology from Harvard University, he spent years working in a laboratory. He also studied magmas. However, Jaggar was not simply content with studying earth science in a laboratory. He dreamed of doing field work to see and study firsthand the evolution of volcanoes and earthquakes.
Due to his level of expertise in understanding volcanoes, the United States sent him to examine the volcanic catastrophes at Soufrière and Mont Pelee. During his career as a volcanologist, he also went on other worldwide expeditions to study volcanoes and earthquakes. He traveled to Italy, the Aleutics, Central America and Japan to observe earthquakes and eruptions in those nations.
After the deadly Messina earthquake killed 125, 000 people in 1908, Jagger decided that much more had to be done to protect future generations from volcanoes and earthquakes. He had an excellent idea to start the first American volcano observatory in Kilauea, Hawaii.
Throughout his entire life, he worked on his big project. Fortunately, he received financial support from notable businessmen, such as Thurston, among many others. In 1912, Jaggar’s dream came true when the construction of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) began. He directed the HVO from 1912 to 1940. As the director of the HVO, Jaggar was very successful. In 1919, he persuaded the National Weather Service to fund the HVO.
Today the HVO helps scientists conduct critical research about volcanoes and earthquakes. Even though the HVO is not open to the public, people can read about volcanoes and earthquakes on their online site.
Still inspiring scientists of all ages, Jaggar’s work, as a volcanologist, will never be forgotten. Named in his honor, the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, is a place for the general public to learn about volcanoes. With spacious windows that have breathtaking views of the Kilauea volcano, this museum is also a tourist attraction. All who enter this museum know that Jaggar’s work is immortalized here.