VHP Photo Glossary: Volcanic gas

Wind blows volcanic gas rising from Pu`u `O`o vent, Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i

Photograph by K.A. McGee on 19 September 1995

Volcanic gas

Magma contains dissolved gases that are released into the atmosphere during eruptions. Gases are also released from magma that either remains below ground (for example, as an intrusion) or rises toward the surface. In such cases, gases may escape continuously into the atmosphere from the soil, volcanic vents, fumaroles, and hydrothermal systems. The most common gas released by magma is steam (H2O), followed by CO2 (carbon dioxide), SO2 (sulfur dioxide), (HCl) hydrogen chloride and other compounds.

Sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases rise from the Pu`u `O`o vent on Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. During periods of sustained eruption from Pu`u `O`o between 1986 and 2000, Kilauea emitted about 2,000 to 1,000 metric tonnes of irritating sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) gas each day.

More about volcanic gases