Bob Decker, who passed away on June 11, 2005, was a volcanological pioneer, introducing new technologies for making deformation measurements at active volcanoes and pushing volcanology into new and exciting frontiers. While a professor at Dartmouth College, Bob explored new methods for quantitatively modeling volcano deformation while working at locales in the United States, Central and South America, Iceland, and Indonesia. In the mid-1960s, Bob initiated the use of Electronic Distance Measurements (EDM) in monitoring deformation at Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes in Hawaii, ushering in a new age of high-precision volcano geodesy. In 1979, Bob left Dartmouth to take the position of Scientist-in-Charge of the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), a post that he held until 1984. While at HVO, Bob started a weekly newspaper column in the Hawaii Herald-Tribune about Hawaiian volcanism that continues today as “Volcano Watch.” During Bob’s HVO going-away party in 1984, a skit about renewed eruption at Mauna Loa was performed. Later that same night, Bob was awakened by a phone call and informed that Mauna Loa actually was erupting! Hardly letting his 1989 retirement slow him down, Bob worked closely with his wife Barbara to publish numerous road guides and several volcanological texts, including Volcanoes in America’s National Parks.
Throughout his career, Bob worked tirelessly towards fostering international collaborations in volcanology, serving as the president of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior from 1975 to 1979. One of his most influential contributions was the creation of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, in 1989, which has since trained hundreds of scientists from around the world – mostly from developing countries – in volcano-monitoring techniques.
Bob’s vision and leadership will be sorely missed. He was an enthusiastic and consummate innovator, was a leading field and quantitative volcanologist, and maintained a strong commitment to education and public outreach. We are honored and pleased to present this Special Issue as a tribute to his career, and hope that he would be proud of this collection of papers which include numerous authors and sites from around the world.
To Bob, a fond Aloha.