609 Forecasting Volcanic Air Pollution during the Historic 2018 Lower East Rift Zone Eruption of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii

Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Lacey Holland, Univ. of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI; and S. Businger, T. Elias, A. K. Pattantyus, and T. Cherubini

On 3 May 2018, volcanic fissures began erupting in the Leilani Estates community within the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) of Kīlauea volcano on the island of Hawai’i. During the months that followed, total gas emissions from Kīlauea increased from a 2014-2017 average of 5,100 t d-1of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to over 50,000 t d-1, making it the single largest point source of SO2 on the planet at the time. Vog (volcanic smog) and other hazards associated with the eruption forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people.

Since its inception in 2010, the Vog Measurement And Prediction (VMAP) program at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa has provided real-time vog forecasts to the public. As the longest running and only real-time, publicly-available vog forecast guidance, the VMAP model filled a critical need for vog forecasts during the LERZ eruption. Through collaborative work with the U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai’i Department of Health, Hawai’i Emergency Operations Center, and Hawai’i County Civil Defense, the VMAP program continues to improve upon its skill with state-of-the-science forecast techniques to meet the challenges associated with forecasting volcanic SO2 and sulfate concentrations. An overview of recent Kīlauea vog distribution will be shown, along with other VMAP model results and validation.

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