Monday, March 3, 2008

Volcano in Hilo, Hawaii

The latest eruption of Kilauea is finally getting national attention. The photos of the lava flows through the old Royal Gardens subdivision are incredible. The flows have moved all the way down to a flat area above the ocean. At this rate it could hit the ocean at any time. Perhaps this activity is the reason for the uptick in tourism this January 2008 versus Janauary 2007.
But the fact that the vog (volcanic smog) has reached Oahu is the other reason for the attention. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is pouring out of vents on the summit of Kilauea; the Pu'u' O'o vent is one of the biggest emitters. Our small population in Hilo, though under a sulfur dioxide cloud for days last month, did not cause the stir that the air quality in Oahu is now getting. I have seen vog before, but never anything as thick as what we have seen recently. It looks like smog and completely hides our view (see the picture on my Feb 16 post). Right now the tradewinds have picked up, so Hilo is completely clear, presumably plastering Maui and Oahu with vog. SO2 is known to cause cooling in large quanities. It is interesting that our temperatures are in the low 60 degrees (F) here, much cooler than I expected in February.
The latest USGS updates reporting an increase in seismic activity, increased SO2, and inflating of the Pu'u' O'o indicates the volcano action may have just begun.

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