Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Rangers Plead for Visitors to Stop Dumping Trash into Steam Vents

by Emily Morgan

The National Park Service is begging visitors to quit throwing trash into the steam vents around one of Hawaii’s most active volcanoes. According to reports, tourists are not only tossing in their litter, but they’re also casting in their loose change into the scorching hot vents at Wahinekapu.

While it feels somewhat silly saying this, you should never do this. These blistering hot steam vents at the park are not your own personal wishing wells.

“We wish we didn’t have to say this, but we do,” Hawaii Volcanoes National Park wrote in a Facebook post on Sept 20. “Please do not throw trash or money into the steam vents at Wahinekapu or anywhere else in the park. … Rangers risk the possibility of severe burns from the steam when we have to remove rubbish from the vents.”

NPS urges public to stop tossing trash, coins into vents, says it’s disrespectful to Hawaiian culture

Wahinekapu is located within the park’s perimeter, where visitors can “feel the breath of the volcano as hot water vapor billows from the earth,” per the park service. In addition, it’s perched within view of Kilauea’s broad caldera.

“This striking phenomenon is created as ground water seeps down to rocks heated by magma deep underground. The rocks are so hot that they vaporize the water, returning it to the surface as steam,” park officials said. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the steam from the volcanoes averages 145 degrees, which is hot enough to keep trees from growing in the area.

The NPS also gave a laundry list as to why dumping various items into the vents is “disrespectful.” First, there’s the fact that native Hawaiians “cleanse themselves in the mahu, or steam, before cultural protocol at Kilauea summit.”

Then, the park service added that “You could inadvertently harm or kill others.” Steam vents are reportedly among the most hazardous features in the national park. “Money is a temptation if it falls within reach. Someone trying to retrieve money could slip and fall into the scalding steam,” they warn.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park covers about 523 square miles and includes Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The volcanoes are also “two of the world’s most active volcanoes.”

Hawaii will soon celebrate the first anniversary of the current eruption of the Kilauea volcano. As a result, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will host several events to mark the occasion.

The scientists recorded shots of the eruption on Sept 8. The footage shows solidified crust sinking at the lava lake as the lava sloshes around. Currently, all lava is constricted to the summit area within the park, as it has been since the eruption began on Sept 29, 2021.