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Volcanic Smog. “Vog”.

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Volcanic Smog

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Volcanic Smog


“Vog is created when volcanic gases (primarily oxides of sulfur) react with sunlight, oxygen and moisture. The result includes sulphuric acid and other sulfates.Vog is made up of a mixture of gases and aerosols which makes it hard to study and potentially more dangerous than either on their own.”

Wikipedia 02 JULY 2014


Vog from Sulfur dioxide emissions

In Hawaii the gas plumes of Kīlauea rise up from three locations: Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent, and from along the coastline where lava flows from the East Rift zone enter the ocean. The plumes create a blanket of vog that can envelop the island. Vog mostly affects the Kona coast on the west side of the Island of Hawaii where the prevailing trade winds blow the vog to the southwest and southern winds then blow it north up the Kohala coast.

Wikipedia 01 July 2014

Comparing Vog and Smog

Vog and smog are different. Vog is formed when sulfur oxides emitted by a volcano react with moisture to form an aerosol. The aerosol scatters light and so makes the vog visible. Smog is formed largely from the incomplete combustion of fuel, reacting with nitrogen oxides and ozone produced from carbon monoxide by reactions with sunlight. The result is also a visible aerosol.

When smog levels are high the sky looks yellowish grey because nitrogen oxides are yellow. In contrast, sulfur oxides are colorless and vog looks grey. Once vog dissipates, grey spots in the sky may for a time remain trapped in the inversion layer.

It is also important to note that the same chemicals are emitted from volcanoes as from cars.

Wikipedia 01 July 2014


Volcanic Smog “VOG” - Hawaii

When the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii is more active and the wind directions are right, it leads to more sulfur dioxide particles in the air over Oahu , which leads to sinus pain, headaches, and irritable children (in that order).  

Jessica Stamm, MS, CCN www.stammnutrition.com

Volcanic Smog (Vog)

Vog can cause eyes, skin and lung irritation. It can compromise human’s immune system and cause even more serious health problems, such as asthma, lung cancer, bronchitis. Lungs can be permanently damaged after long exposure to Vog. These effects are especially serious in children and individuals who have chronic asthma or other respiratory problems.


Vog – Hawaii 1999

Dave Nelson 28 June 2009 www.sydneystormcity.com





Although volcanic smog is largely a human-induced atmospheric hazard , nature is capable of creating it as well. The tiny sulfate particles that make up vog reflect light well , so that it shows up easily when viewed from space. Vog is not confined to Hawaii; it can and does occur in other volcanic areas.

Lutgens, Fredrick K. “The Atmosphere An Introduction to Meteorology” Chapter 13, page 365. (NASA)

Volcanic Smog – Big Island 2008

Big Island crops are shriveling as sulfur dioxide from Kilauea wafts over them and envelops them in "vog," or volcanic smog. People are wheezing, and schoolchildren are being kept indoors during recess. High gas levels led Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to close several days last month, forcing the evacuation of thousands of visitors. Residents of this volcanic island are used to toxic gas. But this haze is so bad that farmers are thinking about growing different crops, and many people are worrying about their health.

Vog - Volcanic Smog - kills plants, casts a haze over Hawaii AP - May 5, 2008


Preventive Measures

If you have breathing problems, take the following measures to prevent the respiratory effects of volcanic smog:

Stay indoors as much as possible. People who have lung conditions should limit physical activity outdoors. Keep windows and doors closed and the air conditioning on. It can also help to use an air cleaner/purifier.

When you do have to go outside, wear a paper or gauze surgical mask that covers your nose and mouth. Wetting the mask with a solution made from baking soda and water can further protect your lungs.

Do not smoke. Smoking can further irritate your lungs. Drink a lot of fluids, especially warm fluids (such as tea). Try bending forward at the waist slightly to make it easier for you to breathe.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007468.htm 16 May 2014

Vog Kills Plants, Casts A Haze Over Hawaii

OCEAN VIEW, Hawaii — For eight years, Tony and Sam Bayaoa have grown thousands of bright red, yellow and pink protea flowers on their farm. Then in March, Kilauea volcano opened a new vent and began spewing double the usual amount of toxic gas. Now about 70 percent of their crop is dried, brown and brittle.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/06/vog-volcanic-smog-kills-p_n_100357.html 05 May 2008

Agricultural Crops and Vog

Ash fall can have serious detrimental effects on agricultural crops depending on ash thickness, the type of growing condition of a crop and timing and intensity of subsequent rainfall.  There is little that can be done to protect field crops from ash fall.  Harvested crops should be thoroughly washed prior to consumption.

Overhead irrigation of greenhouse nursery stock may be helpful to wash away ash and residue and minimize chemical damage to flowers and foliage.


Climate Change Could Increase Volcanic Eruptions

Ash plume rising from Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano that erupted in 2010.

Pic: GunnlaugurÞórBriem/Flickr


Interesting Facts about Vog

  • Like smog, the presence of vog reduces visibility.

  • Moisture in the air causes vog particles to enlarge, decreasing visibility still further.

  • On the Island of Hawai`i, people often turn their headlights on during daylight hours when driving in vog, and vog sometimes limits visibility for air traffic.

  • The tiny sulfuric acid droplets in vog have the corrosive properties of dilute battery acid. When atmospheric moisture is abundant, these droplets combine with it and fall as acid rain, damaging plants and accelerating the rusting of metal objects such as cars, industrial and farm equipment, and building components.

Interesting Facts about Vog

  • In drier conditions, such as those that prevail on Hawaii's Kona coast, the acid aerosols in vog may actually impede the formation of raindrops, resulting in decreased summer rainfall for crops and drinking water.

  • Vog can also mix directly with moisture on the leaves of plants and in less than a day cause severe chemical burns. Farmers on the Island of Hawai`i have suffered losses even to crops in greenhouses, because vog can enter through the air vents.

    14 October 2004


200,000 Residents Urged to Evacuate as Volcano in Indonesia BLOWS

Mount Kelud on the island of Java blew on Thursday evening killing three people and spreading ash more than 312 miles across the collection of islands. It is situated along the “Ring of Fire” – a volcanic belt that spreads across the islands.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/365496/ 14 February 2014

Volcanic smog makes for beautiful sunsets in Kona, Hawaii.29 March 2012www.reddit .com

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