Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hawaii’s spectacular sunsets from volcanic emissions

We are having gorgeous sunsets on Hawaii Island thanks to the increased volcanic activity from Kilauea Volcano. Volcanic ash makes the sunsets a bright reddish orange.

Unfortunately, the beautiful sunsets mean more volcanic emissions are covering the island.  Recently, two new vents opened up on the volcano and the amount of sulfur dioxide emissions have increased. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has measured sulfur dioxide emission rates of up to 900 tonnes or 1,984,140 pounds per day during September.

The Vog Measurement and Prediction Project (VMAP) at the University of Hawaii has created a very helpful map website that predicts the movement of sulfur dioxide (SO2) around the island.  This month there have been many days with deep orange and red level readings in Volcano and the southern parts of the island. Kona has also been having some days with high levels of Vog.

Hawaii Department of Health has an SO2 advisory website with advisory levels based on the measured amounts at various detectors around the island. We took a snapshot on  September 17th, showing several hours of unhealthy red levels at Jaggar Museum in Volcanoes National Park.

 We find even yellow levels of SO2 to be uncomfortable.   After many hours of moderate levels, we feel fatigued and light headed. The best protection from unhealthy levels of SO2 is to stay inside and turn on the AC, if you have one.  We have gas masks just in case. We are hoping that the Volcanic emissions subside, but we are enjoying the incredible sunsets while they continue.  

No comments: