Dangerous 'Vog' in Hawaii is Creating Stunning Sunsets

The mix of Kilauea's gases and particles is dangerous but can be beautiful
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 28, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
In this May 23, 2018, photo provided by Chris Stewart the sun sets through “vog,” or volcanic smog, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has had it all over the past three weeks:...   (Chris Stewart via AP)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has had it all over the past three weeks: molten rock shooting toward the sky, lava oozing from the ground and ash clouds rising miles into the air. You can also add "vog" to the mix, per the AP. Scientists say higher sulfur dioxide emissions recorded at the volcano's vents in recent days are creating the potential for heavier than usual vog, or volcanic smog. So far, trade winds have been mostly blowing the gray haze offshore. Volcanic smog is created by vapor, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gas released from Kilauea. It reacts in the atmosphere with oxygen, sunlight, moisture and other gases and particles. In a matter of hours or days, it converts to fine particles that scatter sunlight, creating a haze that can be seen downwind of Kilauea. Sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began.

Kilauea was belching 15,000 tons of the gas each day, up from 6,000 tons daily prior to the May 3 eruption. People living miles from the eruption are paying attention to the amount of noxious fumes pouring out of the volcano because it creates potential for more vog. "Everyone is having symptoms now on some level," said Dr. Josh Green, a state senator and emergency room physician who has been volunteering in communities where lava fissures have opened in neighborhoods. Symptoms for generally healthy people can include burning eyes, headaches and sore throats. But those with asthma or other respiratory problems can end up hospitalized. Meanwhile, retired photojournalist Chris Stewart says there's one good thing about vog: It intensifies the colors of a sunset. "I almost feel guilty enjoying our sunsets," said Stewart, who's grateful to be living on the Big island's west side — away from the volcano.

(Read more volcano stories.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |  
8%
56%
3%
9%
21%
4%