If You're In Hawaii, Check Out Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's Program On Volcanic Air Pollution

Sulfur dioxide gas emissions from the crater of Pu‘u ‘Ō ‘ō on Kīlauea’s east rift zone and the vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at Kīlauea’s summit create volcanic pollution that affects the air quality of downwind communities. Here, an HVO gas geochemist measures Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō gas emissions using an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. USGS photo.

If you're lucky enough to be in Hawaii next week, swing by Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Tuesday to learn about "natural" air pollution, the volcanic gases and other volcanic air pollution (aka "vog") spewed from Kīlauea.

The program begins at 7 p.m. at the park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Park entrance fees apply.

U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias will update information on Kīlauea Volcano’s gas emissions and associated environmental impacts. The two scientists will discuss how "vog" forms from sulfur dioxide gas emitted
from Kīlauea’s east rift and summit vents.

They will also provide an overview of existing resources that residents can consult to better deal with this notable aspect of the volcano’s ongoing eruptions. After their talk, an optional “gas tasting” session will be offered, during which attendees can safely learn to recognize individual volcanic gases by smell.

Kīlauea has been releasing large amounts of potentially hazardous volcanic gases for nearly three decades—since the beginning of the volcano’s east rift zone eruption in 1983. In March 2008, Kīlauea gas emissions increased further when a new vent opened in Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of the volcano.

Average sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions from Kīlauea’s east rift zone vent declined significantly in 2010 but jumped briefly during the Kamoamoa eruption in March 2011. Kīlauea summit SO2 emissions, overall, have remained high since the opening of the Halema‘uma‘u Overlook Vent in 2008.

At of the end of 2011, the combined emission rate for these two sources was about half of what it was during 2008-2009. This lower combined rate has been comparatively good news for downwind residents and visitors of Hawai‘i Island.

This presentation is one of many programs offered by HVO during Hawai‘i Island’s Volcano Awareness Month in January 2012. For details about this After Dark in the Park program, please call 808-985-6011. More information about Volcano Awareness Month is posted on the HVO website.