As of the morning of November 29, lava from the eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has been confirmed to have crossed the access road to NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory and taken out power lines to the site. These circumstances have resulted in a pause in data being collected at the observatory.

All NOAA staff from the Mauna Loa Observatory are safe.

At this point the facility is not accessible.

NOAA will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.

Media can contact: Alison Gillespie 202-713-6644 ( or Karin Vergoth 303-632-6413‬ (


EPA logo National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) /Air Resources Laboratory (R/ARL)

What does this program measure?

  • Elemental gaseous mercury (ng m-3)
  • Inorganic divalent reactive gaseous mercury (pg m-3)
  • Particulate phase mercury (pg m-3);
  • Fine (<2.5 m m) particulate matter for trace element analysis (ng m-3)
  • Coarse (2.5 - 10 m m) particulate matter for trace element analysis (ng m-3)
  • Gas and particulate phase ions (primarily halides) (ng m-3).

How does this program work?

Mercury is measured via cold vapor atomic fluorescence. Particulate matter is measured with energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence & high resolution magnetic sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Major ions are measured via ion chromatography.

The instruments used include: Tekran Model 2537A Mercury Vapor Analyzer, Tekran Model 1130 Reactive Gaseous Mercury Sampling Unit, Tekran Model 1135 Particulate Mercury Sampling Unit, Tekran Model 2505 Primary Source Calibration Unit.

These instruments are capable of performing automated continuous or semi-continuous collection and analysis of the three forms of atmospheric mercury using the National Exposure Research Laboratories (NERL) methodology.

Why is this research important?

In order to investigate mechanisms of elemental gaseous mercury oxidation in the free troposphere and to evaluate trans-Pacific transport of mercury species. A goal is to accumulate a long-term record of ambient Elemental Mercury (Hg O), Reactive Gaseous Mercury forms (RGM), and Particulate Mercury (Hg P) chemistry to support atmospheric mercury chemistry research; to establish a baseline mercury measurement station; and to investigate the long range transport of mercury from South East Asia across the Pacific.

Are there any trends in the data?

It is too early to tell.

How does this program fit into the big picture?

What is it's role in global climate change?

Not Applicable.

Comments and References

Lead Investigator(s):

Winston Luke
301) 713-0971

MLO Contact(s):

Aidan Colton
808-933-6965 (x233)
Poai Suganuma
808-933-6965 (x232)

Web Site(s)

Date Started

July 30, 2001

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