HONOLULU (KHON2) — Prominent Hawaii Island geophysicist and volcanologist Jim Kauahikaua has died at 72-years-old.

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According to his family, he died Sunday after suffering complications related to meningitis.

Kauahikaua was the first and so far, the only native Hawaiian, to serve as scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, a position he held for 10 years.

Even after stepping down, he remained at Hawaii Volcano Observatory and helped the observatory through the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

He spoke three languages , Hawaiian, and English and science. And science doesn’t always translate to us, you know, mere mortals. But he had a way of being able to impart information in a very tense situation. And in a crisis, he could be calm,” said his wife Jeri Gertz.

Kauahikaua was a Kamehameha Schools graduate, went on to Pomona College and earned his Ph. D in geophysics from UH Manoa.

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He was a mentor to many young scientists, as well as an author.