We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Fumes in Volcano

Tulsa OK
5 posts
Save Topic
Fumes in Volcano

My wife and I plan a 10 day vacation to BI in June. We had been planning to stay several days in Volcano to be near VNP, but a friend here at home advised against it. She said that she had visited Volcano last summer and that the toxic fumes were bad. She advised staying in Hilo and just visiting during the day. I checked some websites which seem to confirm that the level of fumes has been higher lately. Should we be concerned about staying in Volcano?

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,191 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Fumes in Volcano

The level of fumes is up in specific areas of the park where there are gas vents. What is going on now and was going on last June is quite rare in the park and there's no reason to think it will be happening in June.

Your friend must have visited during the period when the lava flow changed.

Volcano Village is subject to VOG, but so is Kailua-Kona. In general, Hilo doesn't get bad vog except when the winds blow Kona. In tradewinds weather the vog blows away.

Vog and sulfur fumes are different. Hydrogen sulfide is extremely toxic (remember Bhopal?) but the park has continuous monitoring at the Jaggar Museum and the park will be shut down if there is an unsafe rise in fumes.

Volcano Village has never been evacuated for excess fumes.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,191 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Fumes in Volcano

Just in case a lot of people are attracted by this topic, at this time the fumes at the crater in the park are quite bad, and visitors should be aware, check with personnel, avoid exposing children, avoid if you have lung issues.

Hydrogen sulfide is to be avoided, period, IMHO.

It really is toxic, lethal even, although these levels are not lethal ... but breathing a lethal substance even at well under a hazardous level may not be all that healthy, you know?

If the VNP UPDATES page mentions the high levels of gas at a time you plan to visit, please pay attention and ask questions.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,191 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Fumes in Volcano

Example of warnings posted right now:

The current increase in sulfur dioxide emission rates at the summit means that SO2 concentrations are likely to be at hazardous levels for visitor areas downwind of Halema`uma`u, especially during weak wind conditions or winds from the south. Most people are sensitive to sulfur dioxide at these levels. Children and individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other breathing problems should avoid areas in the south caldera: southwest rift zone, south caldera pullout, and the Halema`uma`u overlook parking lot. Stay informed about SO2 concentrations in continuously monitored areas (Jaggar Museum and Kilauea Visitor's Center). The National Park Service has been notified and is taking appropriate measures."

These emissions come and go, and thousands and thousands of Park visitors have come during times when the levels were not elevated, but right now they are elevated, and this should not be ignored just because you have come here with plans to tour the Park.

You just have to be flexible when you come to visit an untamed phenomenon of nature like a live volcano.

Tulsa OK
5 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Fumes in Volcano

Thanks for your responses. The message that I am getting is that we should not anticipate that toxic fume levels will be the same in June as they are in February. We shoud check the fume levels at the time of our trip and plan accordingly.

Wisconsin
Level Contributor
75 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Fumes in Volcano

I just saw this notice on the park website. We will arrive in April. My son and husband do have mild asthma. I'm a little confused at what area is actually dangerous. We want to head to the volcano park from Kona, but not sure what would be suitable for a 4 and 6 year old. We would like to see the Kula Kai Caverns and Lava Tubes. The kids want to see the lava, but that's probably where the dangerous fumes are right??? What about Mauna Kea Summit?

Thanks

Palm Springs...
Level Contributor
11,440 posts
105 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Fumes in Volcano

Ok the entire caldera area of the park and down the chain of craters is in what we call vog... Sulfhur Dioxide, and Sulphur Trioxide. In addition microterpa ( fine volcanic dust in the air)

consult you family MD, using the gasses I listed

The area for 50 square miles around the flowing lava is closed ot all entry with a $2500 fine for first voilations. Only way is to take a helo tour to see...figure about $180 pp

Mauna Kea... children under 16 not permitted, its a private road You mist have a rental car which is permitted to drive even to the visitor center at 9200 ft ele. many prohibit it

Again ask your family MD as to taking the kids even that high that fast...look up Acute Mountain Sickness..( look up AMS).. which can cause ceberal edema in adults and kids and can ne fatal.

Ok Kula Kai caverns 1 hour south of Kona.. might be better...but ask about the kids ages....its not a trail....but pretty raw caving helmets and lights

There is another cave Kiluea Caverns over near Hilo

that takes school groups and is also cool.

Thurston Lava tube in the volcano park is in the forest and not subject to the higher gas levels..

Washington, DC
Level Contributor
181 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Fumes in Volcano

Is there any way to gauge or predict how long the fumes will be around for? We'll be visiting at the very end of Feb, and want to make sure we play it safe due to asthma concerns. Thanks!

Palm Springs...
Level Contributor
11,440 posts
105 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Fumes in Volcano

well they have been there for 20 years and will remain as long as the eruption continues

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,191 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Fumes in Volcano

lj, the level of fumes goes up and down and I have yet to ever hear a prediction, only monitoring, so I hate to say it but with the volcano it's always a matter of you get what you get when you come.

Vog bothers me a lot, but I never know from one morning to another if it will be an issue that day. The eruption continuously puts out vog, and where it goes depends on the wind.

The fume level in the park is a whole different issue. Halemaumau crater and some other areas vent gases even though they are quite far from the eruption. Sometimes they vent a little, sometimes a lot, and that is monitored and reported on the updates page.

So bear in mind that fumes and vog are not the same and don't go hand in hand ... the NPS site for VNP has pages you can read to help you understand more about this.

Try not to worry, but I encourage you to do the reading.

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
194 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Fumes in Volcano

Good and interesting info here, but I didn't see a link for the park:

For updated information, visit www.nps.gov/havo That's the official site for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Click on "area closure information". This will give you specific, updated information regarding volcanic gas levels as well as what areas are closed off/restricted as a result.