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Hawaii Volcanoes NP Gets Bad Gas

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Here’s the thing about volcanoes: They’re beautiful and fascinating, sure, but they’re also chock-full of lethal hazards like lava and poisonous gas. A major increase in poisonous sulfur dioxide gas seeping from the Halema’uma’u Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park forced park officials to formulate an evacuation plan to protect both visitors and locals from the super-toxic fumes.

But locals shouldn’t go all Dante’s Peak just yet — trade winds and rains have gone a long way to dispersing and diluting any danger posed by the influx of sulfur dioxide. To prevent any chance accidents, the park closed the popular Crater Rim drive, which passes the south caldera and the source of the fumes.


The upswing in toxic fumes came when a new vent opened on Mount Kilauea’s summit March 13, doubling the already elevated levels of sulfur dioxide. Chances for a full-blown eruption are small, but even if it were to happen, Hawaii’s volcanoes usually erupt with increased lava flows rather than catastrophic explosions.

That sounds like an amazing sight…but if it happens, I think I’ll just let someone else go first. — Ted Alvarez

Evacuation Plans Prepared for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Due to High SO2 Levels (National Parks Traveler)