New Activity on Kilauea •

Last update: November 14th, 2019 at 11:00 am

In late April 2008, Kilauea Volcano Volcano on Hawaii’s big island continued its pattern of increased activity, including elevated seismic tremors and emissions from the volcano’s Halema‘uma‘u vent. The volcano also released sulfur dioxide, a common volcanic pollutant that can pose health hazards.

The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite acquired this image on April 26, 2008. This image shows metric tons of sulfur dioxide in the lowest 5 kilometers (roughly 3 miles) of the atmosphere. Lowest amounts appear in lavender, and highest amounts appear in red. The greatest concentration appears over Hawaii’s big island and immediately west-southwest, but lower concentrations spread both toward the southwest and the northeast. Sulfur dioxide mass is scaled from 0 to 30 metric tons in this image, although some of the highest concentrations were actually greater. Two days after this image was acquired, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continued to warn residents of elevated sulfur dioxide levels, and indicated that closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park might be necessary.

Hawaii’s most active volcano during recorded history, Kilauea is a shield volcano, meaning it resembles an ancient warrior shield with its low, broad shape. The volcano overlaps the eastern flank of the Mauna Loa Volcano. In 1983, a long-term eruption began at Kilauea, producing lava flows, adding to the coastline, and destroying homes.

Credit: NASA OMI image courtesy Simon Carn, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). The OMI instrument is a Dutch-Finnish Instrument, provided to the EOS/Aura mission by the Netherlands and Finland. Caption by Michon Scott, with information from Simon Carn.

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