Halema`uma`u’s plume heads for Hilo

On the way down from the summit after finishing for the night we noticed something spectacular.

It wasn’t a great night – it was cloudy throughout which closed off the other optical and infrared telescopes, but because the JCMT is a submillimetre (i.e. sensitive to microwave radiation) telescope we can see through the clouds. However, the stability and ‘wetness’ of the atmosphere above us was poor, so although we could work it wasn’t great.

It was cloudy above but it was clear down to the coast and we had a great view of the volcano. In these pictures you can see the plume of volcanic emissions coming from the Halema`uma`u vent from the top of Kilauea volcano. Tom had some nice pictures of it close up when he went on his ‘shopping trip’ this weekend. The pictures below aren’t as clear as I would like (click on them to get a better look) as the Sun hadn’t fully risen yet so getting the right exposure (bright sky & dark ground) was tricky as I wanted to try and preserve some of the colour in the sky – I’ll see if I can improve them a bit when I get them into Lightroom on my return home.

I never cease to be humbled by the place we are privileged to call our workplace. It always gets me as we drive down from the summit, the fact that we are (usually) looking down onto the cloud tops rather than up. In these images we are looking down onto another volcano as its exhaust plume is carried away by the wind.

Ah, but notice, where is that plume heading? Not out to the ocean as usual. That’s because the trade winds that usually come in from the east and carry the vog (a uniquely Hawai’ian term, I believe, for ‘volcanic fog’) out to the ocean and beyond (and affecting the sky lines and respiratory systems of folks on our neighbour islands) are not there. Not this day. The winds were coming from the west (we call them ‘Kona winds’) and carrying the vog straight to Hilo!

I spoke with Mila that afternoon and she said that the vog was particularly bad that day…. no wonder.

3 thoughts on “Halema`uma`u’s plume heads for Hilo”

  1. I drove into Hilo today from Puna and the VOG was REALLY thick.

    It’s weird… I seem to be closer to the actual vent then most people on the island… yet others get hit with the VOG more then me.

    BTW – I’m in Pahoa


  2. Hi Damon

    It really depends on the wind direction and when they’re in the wrong direction (for us in East Hawaii!) then Hilo almost seems to get a direct hit. There are times when I’ve come out of the house and you cannot see to the end of the street – and it’s not a long street.



  3. Same experience as Damon, the vog on the commute this morning was the worst I have seen since I’ve been here. Hilo wasn’t too bad at all but Keaau was awful.

    Incidentally, in September I saw a great view from the mountain – it was completely clear and you could see all three plumes – halema’uma’u, Pu’u’o’o and the ocean entry. The ocean entry was spectacular and wasn’t there the previous day. I wondered at the time if there had been a collapse opening up new flows into the water.

    Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera…


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