Volcano Watch: Eruption pause provides opportunity to probe volcanic pollution

The end of Kilauea’s 2018 eruption this past September was accompanied by an enormous decrease in the amount of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) emitted from the volcano. This led to beautifully clear skies gracing the Island of Hawaii, particularly noticeable on the west side, where the volcanic pollution known as vog chronically collected in past years.

How do lava flows cool and how long does it take?

Since the end of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption on Kilauea Volcano, questions surfaced concerning how long it will take for the new lava flows to solidify. This is a difficult question to answer because the initial eruptive temperatures — along with many different factors — can influence the rate of cooling.

Volcano Watch: A field trip to the Mountain of Water

The field day begins with a summit weather check at first light. It is a reflective moment at 6:15 a.m. atop Kilauea Volcano, and the fumarole cracks are steaming like the coffee from my thermos. The weather at Halema‘uma‘u crater is cool and dry, with light trade winds from the northeast.

Volcano Watch: Now is an exciting time at Kilauea

This is, without a doubt, the most intellectually exciting time to be a volcanologist at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The current inactivity at Kīlauea has so many possible outcomes that it is a real challenge to figure out what might happen next. And intellectual challenges are stimulating and exciting.