A new vent that erupted to life in mid-March 2008 atop Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island shows no signs of shutting down. At times a billowing white steam plume has blasted thousands of feet into the air, so high it has been picked up on satellite imagery. Other times the vent has glowed a ghostly bright orange or shot out a sooty rusty cloud of ash, hurtled rocks out of its throat and several small explosive eruptions, THE FIRST OF THOSE TYPE IN OVER 80 YEARS, have occurred.
It's nature's one-two punch - VIDEO- Halemaumau crater's explosion and Kilauea's leaking of lava give the Big Island not one, but two outlets for venting sulfur dioxide. "Experts told a House vog task force that over time the toxic gas could wreak havoc with all sorts of things. One of the possibilities is prolonged activity at Halemaumau." The longer vog particulates are injected into the air, the greater the chance for less rainfall. "No individual droplet is able to accumulate enough mass to actually precipitate." That's bad news for Big Island farmers. They are already seeing crop damage from the toxic air. Less rainfall would be devastating. Another concern is breathing problems. Doctors at Kau Hospital are seeing more respiratory infections that may be linked to vog. On the south side of the Big Island you can't escape it. "One of the emergency room physicians told me he has come into the hospital on high vog days and actually seen a layer of vog down the hallway." "The eruption rate of lava is on the average of a half a million cubic meters per day. That's a lot of lava." And it's not going to stop anytime soon. With Halemaumau also venting toxic gas, scientists and medical experts say it's time to do more than watch and wonder.