Does vog (volcanic smog) impact plants and animals?
The sulfuric acid droplets in vog have the corrosive properties of dilute battery acid. When vog mixes directly with moisture on the leaves of plants it can cause severe chemical burns, which can damage or kill the plants. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas can also diffuse through leaves and dissolve to form acidic conditions within plant tissue. Farmers on Hawai`i Island, particularly in the Ka`u District, have reported losses to agricultural crops and flowers as a result of high SO2 emissions from a gas vent at Kīlauea's summit. The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture has not received any reports of vog-related problems with animals.
- Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard.
- Volcanic gases can be harmful to health, vegetation, and infrastructure
- Volcanic gas hazards from Kilauea Volcano
Ninety-nine percent of the gas molecules emitted during a volcanic eruption are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The remaining one percent is comprised of small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, and other minor gas species.
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The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) determines the amount and composition of gases emitted by Kīlauea Volcano. Changes in gas emissions can reveal important clues about the inner workings of a volcano, so they are measured on a regular basis.
HVO scientists use both remote and direct...Read Full Answer
The most critical factors that determine how much vog impacts an area are wind direction and speed. Air temperature, humidity, rainfall, location of the source, and the amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) being emitted are also factors.
During prevailing trade (from northeast) wind conditions, any SO2 emitted from Pu`u `Ō...Read Full Answer
Predicting the vog levels that visitors might experience during a short stay in Hawai`i is as difficult as predicting the weather. Once volcanic emissions are in the atmosphere, they are distributed by prevailing winds. Where and how bad the vog is ultimately depends on several factors including wind direction, wind speed,...Read Full Answer
Vog poses a health hazard by aggravating preexisting respiratory ailments. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas can irritate skin and the tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat, and can penetrate airways, producing respiratory distress in some individuals. Aerosol particles in vog can also penetrate deep into human...Read Full Answer
Vog (volcanic smog) is a visible haze comprised of gas and an aerosol of tiny particles and acidic droplets created when sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other gases emitted from a volcano chemically interact with sunlight and atmospheric oxygen, moisture, and dust. Volcanic gas emissions can pose environmental and health risks to...Read Full Answer
The United States and its territories contain 169 geologically active volcanoes, of which 54 volcanoes are a high threat or very high threat to public safety. Many of these volcanoes have erupted in the recent past and will erupt again in the foreseeable future. As populations increase, areas near volcanoes are being...Read Full Answer
Volcanoes are inherently beautiful places where forces of nature combine to produce awesome events and spectacular landscapes. For volcanologists, they're FUN to work on! Safety is, however, always the primary concern, because volcanoes can be dangerous places. USGS scientists try hard to understand the risk inherent in any...Read Full Answer
There are many paths to becoming a volcanologist. Most include a college or graduate school education in a scientific or technical field, but the range of specialties is very large. Training in geology, geophysics, geochemistry, biology, biochemistry, mathematics, statistics, engineering, atmospheric science, remote sensing...Read Full Answer
New informational products about the health hazards of volcanic air pollution known as “vog,” are available through a new interagency partnership.
Fumaroles are openings in the earth’s surface that emit steam and volcanic gases, such as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. They can occur as holes, cracks, or fissures near active volcanoes or in areas where magma has risen into the earth’s crust without erupting. A fumarole can vent for centuries or quickly go extinct, depending on the longevity of its heat source.
Today, HVO scientists measured concentrations greater than 10 ppm in a broad area adjacent to Halema‘uma‘u crater. Sulfur Dioxide gas is persistently emitted at Kîlauea's summit. Typical concentrations are generally negligible except for areas downwind of Halema‘uma‘u crater, where they can get up to 2.5 ppm (parts-per-million) in narrow zones.
With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon.
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. The data obtained from FTIR measurements have been useful in identifying the many components of volcanic-gas emissions, which provide information on the quantity of magma circulating within an eruptive vent. The FTIR spectrometer is aimed at spattering area on summit lava lake surface to measure volcanic-gas composition.
Fumarole on Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi. Elemental sulfur vapor escaping from the fumarole has cooled to form yellow-colored crystals around its margins. Credit: Robert L. Christiansen.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Geochemist Jeff Sutton and CSAV international volcanology students visit a continuous gas monitoring site on Kilauea's east rift zone during field studies portion of the summer training course. Instrumentation at this site measures ambient concentration of noxious sulfur dioxide gas released from the volcano's vents, along with meteorological parameters, transmitting these data back to HVO in real time for display and analysis.
The United States has 169 active volcanoes. More than half of them could erupt explosively, sending ash up to 20,000 or 30,000 feet where commercial air traffic flies. USGS scientists are working to improve our understanding of volcano hazards to help protect communities and reduce the risks.
- Volcanoes: Monitoring Volcanoes
- Volcanoes: National Volcano Early Warning System
- Volcanoes: Science for Public Safety
USGS geologist, Angie Diefenbach, describes how she uses GIS, (Geographic Information Systems) software to study volcanic eruptions and their impacts on society.
We live at the bottom of an ocean of air. Most adults take around 29,000 breaths a day, children breathe a little faster; but what is in this air we breathe? What are the gases in the air? How much of each gas is there? Do these gases have different weights? How cold are liquid nitrogen and dry ice, and where did those names come from? Come join us to explore these questions at this family friendly presentation with hands-on experiments.
Speakers: Janet Hannon and Stan Mroczkowski
The front of this small finger of lava was almost to the sea cliff this morning, and was burning through low brush along the coastline.