This is a photo-splice from this morning view of Halema’uma’u’s crater cam showing the sulfur dioxide fumes moving to the northeast as opposed to the usual southwesterly direction; sending vog more towards Hilo and vicinity than Kona.
Emissions of sulfur dioxide directly into our clean tropical Hawaiian air currents have been a serious concern and detriment to the health of people and the aina (land) for many years. Farmers down stream from the Big Island’s prevailing wind stream have had crops destroyed by this mix of toxic gases and the sulfuric acids. The State of Hawaii last year compensated some hard hit protea flower farmers in Kau and also helped relocate some of them to healthier patches of land.
On March 19th of 2008 a new sulfur dioxide emitting vent blew out of the floor of the Halema’uma’u crater and has since spewed an average of ten-times the crater’s previous volume of sulfur dioxide, glass particles and ash; exaggerating the vog problems everywhere the wind blows from there, including the Hawaii Volcanoes Park visitors center and Jaggar museum and all communities downwind.
These intense Halemau’uma’u fumes are only half of the source of the Big Islands volcanic, Vog, haze; The massive Pu`u O`o active eruption vent also contributes a daily average of 9000 tones of sulfur dioxide into the Hawaiian Island airstreams. Both of these volcanic vents are degassing magma on large scale, and the combination of the two has created some serious health issues. There have been a number of recent studies on the affects of our vog on humans breathing it and recommendations to persons with compromised respiratory problems to avoid it, but otherwise we keep on breathing it daily in many communities throughout the Hawaiian Island chain.
Such massive volumes of these volcanic gasses are ejected that they have been recorded from space, as shown in this NASA image here and written about in this article
(Click on the images for a larger view size)
Volcanic haze is what closed the County of Hawaii lava viewing area down yesterday and may do so again today. So if planning a visit to view the active lava flow phone the Civil Defense lava hotline at 961-8093 in the afternoon before heading out there. You can also see updated sulfur dioxide direction map here
Deflation is also full-on right now, which may subdue the robust ocean entry and surface flows of lava we have enjoyed this past week.