Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Elevated Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Warning
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has issued a press release concerning the closure of trails and pullouts along Crater Rim Drive. Elevated levels of sulfur dioxide gas in the Kilauea summit area have prompted the following closures:
- Crater Rim Drive from Jaggar Museum to Chain of Craters Road will be opened for drive through visitation only, no parking or stopping allowed at any pullouts, parking areas or shoulders.
- Crater Rim Trail from Jaggar Museum to Chain of Craters will be closed.
- All trails leading to the summit caldera of Kilauea are closed.
Elevated volcanic gas levels are dangerous to everyone. In these areas, do not stop and do not leave your car. Drive by with car windows rolled up and use air conditioning in “recirculation” mode.
The SO2 levels are the highest they’ve been in since 1982 per this Star Bulletin article. Elevated exposure to SO2 can cause breathing problems and it is particularly dangers to children, pregnant women and those with asthma and heart conditions. When mixed with water, SO2 can become sulfuric acid. As you probably know, the lungs contain water.
I’ll try to keep an eye on when the restricted areas reopen. It is always a good idea to limit your exposure to SO2 anytime you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You will know when you are around it, particularly by it’s foul (rotten egg) fragrance and you will see white fumes coming from the ground.
As a final reminder, always begin your day at the park with a stop at visitor center. Check there for any closures, dangers, and safety advice for your visit.
Well, that sucks. I was going to the Big Island this weekend to see some volcano stuffs…
Hi Joe – that’s a bummer for sure. The blessing and curse of an active volcano is its unpredictability, I suppose. You may still be able to see quite a few things. If I’m looking at the map correctly and comparing it to the press release, I think you’ll still be able to see some interesting sites, such as Thurston Lava Tube for example.
Take a look at this map:
and compare it to the “closures” described by the park:
– Crater Rim Drive from Jaggar Museum to Chain of Craters Road will be opened for drive through visitation only, no parking or stopping allowed at any pullouts, parking areas or shoulders.
– Crater Rim Trail from Jaggar Museum to Chain of Craters will be closed.
– All trails leading to the summit caldera of Kilauea are closed.
You may even be able to hike Kilauea Iki trail which is a wonder hike, by the way. https://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/10/01/kilauea-iki-hike-in-hawaiis-volcanoes-national-park/
You’ll still get to drive down chain of craters road, which is neat decent down to the ocean and to the lava flow that ran across the road.
I hope you have a great visit despite the closures.