Vog sets in on West Hawai‘i as Kīlauea erupts

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Hualalai shrouded in haze on Sept. 14, 2023, from vog emitted off the Kīlauea eruption. (Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now)

Air quality in West Hawai‘i is currently at “moderate” as trade winds push vog from the erupting Kīlauea toward Kona.

This morning, Hualalai was barely visible as it was shrouded in the voggy haze. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Ken Hon said intense vog comes at the beginning of Kīlauea summit eruptions and then levels exponentially lessen. All of the past five summit eruptions, including the ongoing eruption now, have exhibited similar behavior.

When the eruption started on Sunday, Hon said the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recorded one of the highest readings of sulfur dioxide, or SO2, it’s ever made at 190,000 tonnes a day. But in less than a week, levels have decreased to about a tenth of that, or about 20,000 tonnes.


“What’s happened is there was a lot of stored lava before this and it all comes out early on and then it decays rather rapidly,” Hon said. “So we’re having these really high effusion rates and really high gas rates and then they’re calming down with time down to the long-term rate.”

The long-term levels of SO2 are on the order to 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes a day.

Screengrab of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa website that measures and predicts vog.

“That doesn’t mean that isn’t still a significant amount of vog for people living downwind, but it’s not the intensity of when the eruption initially starts off.”


Click here for an interactive map that measures and predicts vog forecasts.

Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants and affects livestock. Those with respiratory conditions should stay inside.

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