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Kīlauea Volcano Idle, Air Quality Clean and Clear

Clean, clear blue skies are commonplace throughout the island of Hawaiʻi, with the lava flow from Kīlauea volcano having stopped in early August. This photo was taken on Sept. 5, 2018, looking toward North Kohala. Photo Credit: Island of Hawaiʻi Visitors Bureau

The US Geological Survey and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report that sulfur dioxide emissions at Kīlauea summit and in the Lower East Rift Zone in Puna have been drastically reduced.

Reports indicate that emissions are at their lowest combined level in 11 years, since 2007.

Kīlauea volcano’s latest eruption began on May 3 with lava flowing continuously until Aug. 6.

It has now been a month since the continuous flow of lava ceased from Kīlauea volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi.  The most evident sign of the positive impact since then is the clean and clear air quality island-wide.

The alert level for Kīlauea volcano was lowered from a warning to a watch level three weeks ago.

According to daily reports monitored by the state Department of Health [1], air quality is rated as good in all communities throughout the island of Hawaiʻi.

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority said, “After three months of continuous lava flows, we are cautiously hopeful this cessation in activity becomes permanent.

“We encourage travelers from around the world to come and enjoy the incredible diversity of landscapes and natural beauty to be explored on the island of Hawaiʻi. The island is safe to visit, the air quality is good and, by coming here, travelers will be supporting community economies and helping residents with their recovery.”

Ross Birch, executive director for the Island of Hawaiʻi Visitors Bureau, said, “Travelers can plan trips to the island of Hawaiʻi with confidence. The air quality is clean and beautiful for all to enjoy.

“The island of Hawaiʻi is immense and there is so much for visitors to see, do and discover beyond the limited area where the lava flows occurred. Our tourism partners island-wide will ensure travelers have a marvelous experience on an island that has unmatched characteristics, attractions and geography.”

Approximately 13.7 square miles of land in the lower Puna area have been covered by lava, with flows into the ocean having added an estimated 875 acres of new land to the island. More than 700 homes were destroyed and many businesses have suffered significant losses in revenue, primarily because many visitors have chosen to avoid the area.

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, the state’s most popular visitor attraction, announced plans to reopen more parts of the park on Sept. 22. Because of damage caused by the volcano activity, most of the park has been closed since early May, with only the Kahuku Unit remaining open to the public.

Kīlauea has been an active volcano since 1983. Residents and visitors have been drawn to the wonder of seeing nature at work in the creation of new land via tours or visits to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.