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

January 26, 2012

Hawai‘i National Park, HI — The public is invited to learn about Kīlauea's volcanic gases and vog (volcanic air pollution) in an “After Dark in the Park” program at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Tues., Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.

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. Their presentation will be at the
park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Park entrance fees apply.

Sutton and Elias 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 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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