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MIT students studying Hawaii island vog

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:47 p.m. HST, Jan 25, 2013

KAILUA-KONA » Students from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been on the Big Island studying a vog plume from near the Kilauea crater.

The students spent about a week on the Big Island as part of a class studying vog, also called volcanic smog, aimed at providing undergraduates with hands-on experience in environmental fieldwork, according to West Hawaii Today

The students gave a presentation Thursday in which they said that an older vog plume has less sulfur dioxide in it, which student Jessica Parker said means less of an impact on plants and property. Parker said as sulfur dioxide has time to spread and move across land, it reacts with water vapor and other elements to create sulfate, which is less corrosive.

“It doesn’t corrode as quickly as battery acid,” she said, of the difference between sulfur dioxide and sulfate, which she compared to the acidity of drip coffee. “When ammonia neutralizes it, (the sulfur dioxide) becomes less acidic and acid is what contributes to corrosion of fences.”

The students collected data over the past week. They used both ground-based instruments and sensors onboard an unmanned aerial vehicle to capture the data. 

Even though sulfur dioxide is neutralized as the plume moves, the amount of particulate in the air is still a health concern, Parker said. Vog is associated with coughing, asthma, and respiratory illness, among other issues.

Several dozen people attended the presentation by more than a dozen MIT undergraduate students held at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park in North Kona.

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Wazdat wrote:
GREAT NEWS..as always it takes someone from OUTSIDE our island to do any real credible study. HOW SAD
on January 25,2013 | 08:14AM
famlb wrote:
There is an active research project at the University of Hawaii and at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory that has been going on for decades. Real time dispersion model forecast of the vog plume are available at the following link http://weather.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/. Finally, the student's statement that sulfate is less corrosive than sulfur dioxide is misleading because when sulfur dioxide hydrolyzes it becomes sulfuric acid which contributes to acid rain.
on January 25,2013 | 10:20AM
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