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Trouble in paradise: When volcanoes erupt

May 16, 2018

ASU professor says Kilauea volcano began eruption 35 years ago

Hawaii’s Big Island has been under siege for the last two weeks due to violent activity from the Kilauea volcano, which has produced haunting images: spewing ash and toxic gases, lava pouring through the streets and people fleeing their homes.

And Kilauea is showing no signs of slowing down.

Scientists are warning residents to brace themselves for more. Some are fueling fears that a violent eruption could hurl car-sized boulders, molten rock and other dangerous debris hundreds of feet into the air. So why is Mother Nature so furious these days, and when will she stop acting up?

To provide us with some clear answers, ASU Now turned to Professor David Williams, a volcanologist and planetary geologist in Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration.

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David Williams

Question: Can you explain why the Kilauea volcano is erupting, and how frequent is this type of activity?

Answer: The Big Island of Hawaii is actually composed of five shield volcanoesShield volcanoes are broad volcanoes built up from the repeated nonexplosive eruption of basalt to form a low dome or shield, usually having a large caldera at the summit., two of which are considered “active.” Kilauea volcano actually began its eruption in January 1983 and has been erupting lava flows pretty much continuously since then. It produces both pahoehoe (smooth, ropy tops) and 'a'a (rough, clinker tops) lava flows of an iron-rich, low-silica rock called basalt. Most of Kilauea’s eruptions are effusive, producing lava flows with some lava fountains. Contrast that with stratovolcanoes like Mount St. Helens, which mostly has explosive eruptions with tall plumes of ash and dust. These eruptions occur more infrequently, when more viscous, gas- and silica-rich magma build up great pressure to blast out the rock above.

Q: Millions of Americans saw news clips of the lava flowing down streets and devouring everything in its path, including a car. Can the scorched earth eventually recover?

A: Yes, after the lava cools, vegetation will grow on it. In fact, volcanic soils are quite fertile. Roads and houses can be rebuilt, although I think it was a mistake for Realtors to try to convince people to build homes on an active volcano! If it erupted there once, a clearly active volcano could erupt there again.

Q: In addition to the physical damage of the lava, what type of emissions or toxins is the volcano giving off?

A: Kilauea gives off both CO2carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, SO2. Too much SO2 is poisonous and can be deadly; thus evacuation of people living near the eruption site is well justified.

Q: What are potential problems of this volcano activity?

A: The biggest problem besides the advancing lava flows destroying homes is the potential for a large explosive eruption at Kilauea’s summit, which is why they closed the national park. As the lava flows out the volcano’s flanks and drains the central crater, the lava level in the crater could drop so low groundwater could flow into the crater. When water mixes with hot lava, it can explode in a large stream eruption, which could blast large magma bombs and tephra long distances. So no one can be close to the crater while this possibility exists.

Q: If someone were planning a vacation in the affected area this summer, can they still go?

A: Yes, eventually this eruption episode will cease, the volcanic gases will be dispersed by winds, the national park will reopen, and visitors will be able to view Hawaii’s wondrous active volcanism safely.

Q: Do I have to travel to Hawaii to see Hawaiian-like lava flows?

A: No, in fact Arizona has many dormant or extinct volcanoes just a few hours drive from Phoenix. Sunset Crater National Monument, northeast of Flagstaff, has the youngest cinder cone volcano in ArizonaIt last erupted in AD 1085. Pahoehoe lava has a smooth, billowy, undulating or ropy surface; 'a'a lava is characterized by a rough or rubbly surface., and has both pahoehoe and 'a'a basaltic lava flows that visitors can walk up to and study.

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Positive-coaching framework used at ASU for First-Year Success Center

Personal-development coach shares framework used in ASU peer coaching.
May 16, 2018

Institute founder offers 3-day workshop at Downtown Phoenix campus

As Arizona State University has worked to expand access to higher education, it has added services to support students who need a boost, including specialized peer coaching.

The First-Year Success Center offers one-on-one sessions for freshmen, with a specialized program for first-generation students called Game Changers. One key component of the center’s work is personal coaching, in which older students work with the younger students.

Marisel Herrera, the center's founding director, incorporated the training framework of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute into the ASU program several years ago, after reading books by Valorie Burton, the founder of the institute. ASU was the first university to adopt the CaPP method, which Herrera has found to be very effective.

Burton will be giving a three-day coach-training workshop at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus next month, and faculty and staff get a 25 percent discount if they register by Monday, May 21.

Herrera, who has a certificate in personal-development coaching from the institute and is the director of training and development at the First-Year Success Center, said the training teaches critical skills like how to listen and how to ask questions.

“These skills are vital in moving what could be a transactional conversation on the surface to transformational ones that uncover a student's real goals, barriers and strengths,” she said.

“That is the beauty of the framework — it equips coaches to build relationships via conversation that have been proven to foster well-being, resilience and goal attainment and empowers the student and that don't just solely rely on near-peer mentorship approaches.”

Burton answered some questions from ASU Now about her personal-development coaching framework in the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute.

Valorie Burton

Valorie Burton, founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute, will give a workshop at the Downtown Phoenix campus next week.

Question: The workshop will address listening skills. Why is listening important for a coach, and why is it a skill that is sometimes overlooked?

Answer: Mindful listening is the first critical skill of effective coaching. A great coach hears not only words, but also voice tone, body language, hesitation, anxiety and excitement. He or she hears what is said, and also what is not said. This deep approach to listening offers clues to help a person get clarity about purpose and direction, and create a successful strategy to foresee and break through obstacles.

Q: Is resilience a skill that can be taught to anybody?

A: Yes, resilience is a skill that can be learned — and anyone wanting to succeed at high levels must learn it. Navigating change, setbacks and opportunities is necessary for a fulfilling life and career.

Q: ASU's First-Year Student Success program has used the CaPP framework for its peer coaches who work with first-year freshmen. How is coaching an especially helpful technique for this group, as opposed to other kinds of interventions?

A: Coaching is very practical and actionable. I believe it particularly helpful for first-year students because they are in transition, and they are making many adjustments, facing new challenges and want to succeed. Having the support of a coach who is in your corner gives a student a sounding board and someone with whom to intentionally make decisions and take actions that lead to successful outcomes.

Q: Why is your focus on positivity?

A: Our focus is on positive psychology, the study of well-being, success and optimal human functioning. Positive psychology is a strong foundation for powerful coaching and offers a research basis from which to coach others.

The workshop will be June 16–18 in the A.E. England Building at the Downtown Phoenix campus, and participants will earn a certificate. Register now at the CaPP website using the password Arizona (the password is case-sensitive).

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News