The area of the park where the eruption is occurring is currently closed to visitors, so you’ll have to experience it vicariously through scientists’ observations. It’s best to leave the up-close-and-personal interactions with the volcano to trained professionals.
“Therefore, high levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects down-wind,” Hawaiian Volcano Observatory warned. Among the biggest risks is what’s bizarrely known as “vog.” The phenomenon occurs when sulfur dioxide, a commonly occurring gas in volcanic eruptions, interacts with the air to create a toxic haze called vog (volcanic fog, get it?).
“ Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock,” the observatory explained. For those living in the vicinity of Kīlauea, it could become a bigger concern as the eruption goes on.
Scientists have also documented tephra, a catch-all term for volcanic projectiles. That can include cinders, pumice, and Pele’s hair, a term for strands of volcanic glass fibers that look like hair and are named after the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. All are dangerous and can cause serious injuries and respiratory issues.