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USGS HVO Press Release — Kīlauea's Volcanic Gases and Their Environmental Impacts

January 19, 2011

HAWAI‘I ISLAND, Hawai‘i — The public is invited to learn more about volcanic gases and vog (volcanic air pollution) in a free presentation on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Konawaena High School Cafeteria in Kealakekua.

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.

Sutton and Elias will discuss how vog forms from Kīlauea's east rift and summit sulfur dioxide gas emissions, and will provide an overview of existing resources that residents can consult to better deal with this notable aspect of the volcano's two 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's ongoing east rift zone eruption, well known for producing enough lava to fill a football stadium every week, also releases huge amounts of potentially dangerous volcanic gas. In March 2008, Kīlauea gas emissions increased further when a new vent opened in Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of the volcano.

During 2010, average sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions from the east rift zone vent declined significantly, and summit SO2 emissions decreased slightly. By the end of 2010, the combined emission rate for these two sources was about half of what it was during 2008–2009. This lower emission rate is good news, especially for downwind residents and visitors of Hawai‘i Island.

Konawaena High School is at 81-1043 Konawaena School Road, Kealakekua, Hawai‘i. A map of the campus is online at

Daily updates about ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at

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