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Sulfur Banks, on the crater side of the road, is just one of hundreds of gas seep on the flanks of the summit crater spewing hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and steam. Hematite, native sulfur and gypsum minerals precipitate out of the gas flux streaming through the rocks, making colorful splashes on the outcrops. Children and people with heat or respiratory conditions, or anybody with a weak stomach should be wary of venturing down the road to see this.

Non-sulfurous steam vents, mostly across the road from the crater and at the aptly named Steaming Bluff, result from rainwater percolating down through the ground being boiled by the hot rock beneath and streaming up vents to the surface. There is a short walk to the Steaming Bluff from the Sulfur Banks parking area which comes to a breathtaking view of the crater and more productive steam vents.

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Written and produced by Donald B. MacGowan; narrated by Frank Burgess.  All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan and Frank Burgess.


A montage of some of my favorite footage that Frank and I have shot of the Kilauea eruption, from the active vents at Pu’u O’o and Kupaianaha to the ocean entry at Waikupanaha, as well as day and night time footage of the summit eruption at Halema’uma’u. Sit back, turn up the speakers and enjoy–I’ve even recorded a new piece of music to go with it.

Produced by Donald B. MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donald MacGowan; Narrated by Frank Burgess, Original music written and performed by Donnie MacGowan. For more information about traveling the Big Island in general and exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in particular, visit and