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What’s in the Air? The Chemistry and Impact of Volcanic Smog (VOG)

January 24, 2013

Visible from space: Vog (Volcanic pollution) from Kilauea volcano, on the island of Hawaii, has been erupting continuously since 1983. This image, taken by the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis, shows the volcanic plumes from Kilauea rising up from Halema’uma’u Crater and along the coastline from lava flows entering the ocean from the East rift zone. The volcanic activity has created a blanket of volcanic fog, called vog, that envelops the island. (Image Courtesy NASA)

The following “Reef Talk” program will be held at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Visitor Center on Thursday, January 24th from 6:30 pm—8:00 pm:


Presented by:  Massachusetts Institute of Technology Students

In this presentation, a team of undergraduates from MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will discuss their recent measurements of the chemical composition of volcanic smog (“vog”).  These students will be visiting the Big Island as part of an annual MIT class, “Traveling Research Environmental Experiences” (TREX), aimed at providing undergraduates with hands-on experience carrying out environmen­tal fieldwork.  The past two TREX trips (in January 2012 and January 2013) have fo­cused on measuring two of the most noxious components of vog, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM), using both ground-based instruments and sensors onboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  Here the students will present their results from these studies, as well an overview of the chemical composition and impact of vog.

For more information about this project click here

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is located just north of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is located just north of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“Cough, cough…” Satelite view of Hawaii Island showing how the Northeast Trade Winds carry the vog towards the leeward side of the island. (NOAA Image)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. mauipaddler permalink
    January 16, 2013 9:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Maui Canoe Club.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 17, 2013 4:16 pm

    I read Jessica’s blog. If the Vog is blown up the west side of Hawaii, it would impact Kona, not Hilo. Could you clarify whether it’s the west side (Kona) or east side (Hilo)?

    • Pacific Island Ranger permalink*
      January 18, 2013 6:05 am

      VOG conditions change as the winds change. When the winds are coming from the northeast (trade winds), then the leeward side (Kona) of the island is affected more than the windward (Hilo). When trade wind conditions are light or there are other winds, then Hilo can be greatly affected. Hope this helps.

  3. Jeff Michaels permalink
    April 22, 2013 10:26 am

    Would there be negative acceptance to mitigation of Vog from the Hawaiian Culture?

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