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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hale'ma'uma'u eruption from Steaming Bluff, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Graphic Photo By Donald B MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Main Entrance

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Fee-Station at the Entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The main entrance to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park lies along the Hawai’i Belt Road between Volcano Village on the East and Mauna Loa Road on the west. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; the access fee is charged only during daylight hours. The Visitor Center has a 24-hour information line at 808.985.7017 and there is a 24-hour eruption hotline at 808.985.6000. Within the Park tune to A.M. radio 530 for continuous information broadcast.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Lava enters the ocean a La'epuki, near the end of Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Stop at the main gate to pay entrance fees and obtain a map and the latest information updates. Access fees for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for hikers, bikers and motorcyclists are $5.00; vehicles are charged $10.00. This charge entitles the payer to 5 days unlimited access to the Park. One can also buy a Hawaii National Park Pass for $20.00 good for one year at all National Park sites on the Big Island and Maui. For $50.00 one can buy a Golden Eagle National Park Pass, good for one year at any National Park in the country. U.S. citizens over 62 years of age can purchase a Golden Age Passport for $10.00 that entitles them to free access to all National Parks for life. Disabled U.S. citizens may obtain a free, lifetime Golden Access Pass good at all National Parks in the country.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Mauna Loa from Mauna Loa Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is about 4200 feet elevation and one may enter in a driving sleet storm or freezing fog only to find oneself in the baking tropic desert of Holei at the end of Chain of Craters Road only forty minutes later. Expect rain, warm and cold; expect sun, warm and cold, and bring appropriate clothing and use it.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Sea arches, cliffs and wild ocean at the end of Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Food is only available in the Park at Volcano House, and occasionally at the end of Chain of Craters Road at a small concession stand. There are a number of restaurants and shops in Volcano Village to buy food and drinks, where the only gas near the Park also is available. It is wise to fill-up the gas tank and the food cooler before entering the Park. No matter what your plans may be, you are likely to spend more time and use more gas in the Park than you had originally intended.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Halema'uma'u eruption from Jagger Museum, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Mauna Loa from Steaming Bluff, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

All media copyright 2010 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Mauna Loa from Mauna Loa Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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Reprinted from here.

Sulfur dioxide emissions from the Pu`u `Ō `ō vent on Kilauea's east rift (right foreground), and the summit vent in Halema`uma`u Crater (in front of Mauna Loa, left background), were being blown to the northeast by winter winds in this January 14, 2009, USGS photo.

Sulfur dioxide emissions from the Pu`u `Ō `ō vent on Kilauea's east rift (right foreground), and the summit vent in Halema`uma`u Crater (in front of Mauna Loa, left background), were being blown to the northeast by winter winds in this January 14, 2009, USGS photo.

What’s white and wet and green all over? Hint: this is a household problem that Big Island residents on rainwater catchment share with the citizens of Sweden. Answer: a bathtub or wash basin coated with green copper sulfate.

For newcomers to the island, it may be reassuring to learn that the green stuff on your plumbing fixtures is a mineral, not a vegetable. The sulfuric acid in our rain leaches copper from pipes and combines with soap to form copper sulfate that adheres to tubs.

Most of us know that we can thank our active volcano for the acidic rain. The ongoing summit and east rift eruptions of Kilauea are emitting 2,000 to 3,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere every day. SO2 and other volcanic gases interact with the atmosphere and sunlight to form sulfate particles and tiny droplets of sulfuric acid. This mixture is responsible for both acid rain and the haze we call vog.

But what about those green bathtubs in Sweden? By the 1970s, Scandinavians were also suffering from acid rain. With their high per-capita level of blondes, the Swedes were even reporting a problem with green hair. Unfortunately for them, the source of their pollution wasn’t a captivating volcano, but rather the heavily industrialized areas of Germany and Britain, where SO2 is created by burning sulfur-contaminated coal.

The most severe consequences of exposure to SO2 occurred in London in 1952, when a temperature inversion capped the city for four days, trapping a “black fog” of polluted air close to the ground. Many people died on the streets, and, in the end, 4,000 deaths were attributed to the smog. The primary cause of death was inhalation of SO2 and particulates created by coal-fired power plants and home furnaces.

The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 and similar measures in Western Europe resulted in much cleaner cities. However, some of this improvement was achieved by building ever taller smoke stacks, which caused the emissions to be carried hundreds of miles downwind, where hitherto pristine areas were plagued with acid rain. Acidification of lakes and soil in the U.S. northeast and Canada killed fish, damaged forests, and leached toxic metals into water supplies.

In 1990, Congress mandated that coal-fired power plants had to cut their SO2 emissions in half by 2010. Many plants found that meeting the new standards was more easily and cheaply achieved than first assumed, by switching to low-sulfur coal from Wyoming’s vast strip mines.

Too bad Kilauea can’t switch to low-sulfur magma! Since the new vent opened at the summit in March, SO2 emissions have increased by about 50 percent and vog impacts, especially to communities close to the source, have become even more serious. In addition to creating hazardous situations for people with respiratory ailments, farmers have suffered significant losses, prompting a disaster declaration from the USDA. A recent publication from the University Agricultural Extension Service, http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-47.pdf, provides farmers with information on how to apply for relief funding. It is also useful for the home gardener, as it lists varieties of plants known to be susceptible to vog and has suggestions for helping to protect vulnerable plants. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions list online at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/hazards/FAQ_SO2-Vog-Ash/main.html. Hawai`i County has advisories and a mitigation brochure on their website at http://www.lavainfo.us/. The State of Hawai`i also has online information at http://hawaii.gov/gov/vog.

Activity update

Kīlauea Volcano continues to be active. A vent in Halema`uma`u Crater is emitting elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas and has resumed producing small amounts of ash. Resulting high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in downwind air have closed the south part of Kīlauea caldera and produced occasional air quality alerts in more distant areas, such as Pahala and communities adjacent to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, during kona wind periods. An increase in glow, gas-rushing sounds, and ash production over the past week indicates that lava may have risen to a shallower level beneath the vent.

Pu`u `Ō`ō continues to produce sulfur dioxide at even higher rates than the vent in Halema`uma`u Crater. Trade winds tend to pool these emissions along the West Hawai`i coast, while Kona winds blow these emissions into communities to the north, such as Mountain View, Volcano, and Hilo.

Lava erupting from the Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) vent at the eastern base of Pu`u `O`o continues to flow to the ocean at Waikupanaha through a well-established lava tube. Breakouts from a western branch of the lava tube were active on the coastal plain near the National Park boundary in the past week and reached the ocean late on January 21 or early January 22. This tiny, new ocean entry is located very close to the long-buried Waha`ula Heiau and National Park visitor center.

Be aware that active lava deltas can collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions. This may be especially true during times of rapidly changing lava supply conditions. The Waikupanaha delta has collapsed many times over the last several months, with three of the collapses resulting in rock blasts that tossed television-sized rocks up onto the sea-cliff and threw fist-sized rocks more than 200 yards inland.

Do not approach the ocean entry or venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves generated during delta collapse; avoid these beaches. In addition, steam plumes rising from ocean entries are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Call Hawai`i County Civil Defense at 961-8093 for viewing hours.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Two earthquakes were located beneath the summit this past week. Continuing extension between locations spanning the summit indicates slow inflation of the volcano, combined with slow eastward slippage of its east flank.

Two earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt within the past week. A magnitude-3.9 earthquake occurred at 2:55 a.m., H.s.t., on Sunday, January 17, 2009, and was located 9 km (5 miles) south and offshore of Kalapana at a depth of 42 km (26 miles). A magnitude-3.1 earthquake occurred at 6:23 a.m. on Thursday, January 22, and was located 11 km (7 miles) southeast of Waiki`i at a depth of 11 km (7 miles).

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kīlauea eruption updates, a summary of volcanic events over the past year, and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kīlauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862. Questions can be emailed to askHVO@usgs.gov. skip past bottom navigational bar

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general, and for seeing the eruptions at Kilauea in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.