Vog forecasting critical during new Kīlauea eruption

Plumes of volcanic gases produced during 2018 Kilauea eruption.
Credit: Credit: Ryan Tabata

The recent eruption activity on Kilauea has prompted renewed efforts by the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Vog Measurement and Prediction (VMAP) Project. The team’s focus is to create forecasts of dispersion and trajectories of volcanic smog, referred to as vog, which are available in real time online.

This most recent eruption started on the evening of December 20. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected a glow within the Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, indicating that an eruption had begun within the caldera. The water lake at the summit of Kīlauea boiled away with an effusive eruption and vents continue to generate lava, pouring into a growing lava lake at the base of the crater.

Early data from HVO suggest emission rates of up to 30,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per day—significantly more than the 2,000 tons per day recorded in 2018, prior to the  of the Lower East Rift Zone. Vog is created when invisible  gas reacts with oxygen, sunlight, moisture and other gases and particles in the air to produce visible sulfate aerosols within hours to days. Vog can produce significant impacts on  and can create a visibility hazard for general aviation.

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