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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 4
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2441-2457, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2441-2457, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Apr 2018

Research article | 26 Apr 2018

Implementation of electrochemical, optical and denuder-based sensors and sampling techniques on UAV for volcanic gas measurements: examples from Masaya, Turrialba and Stromboli volcanoes

Julian Rüdiger1,a, Jan-Lukas Tirpitz2, J. Maarten de Moor3, Nicole Bobrowski2,4,5, Alexandra Gutmann1, Marco Liuzzo6, Martha Ibarra7, and Thorsten Hoffmann1 Julian Rüdiger et al.
  • 1Johannes Gutenberg-University, Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 2University of Heidelberg, Institute for Environmental Physics, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 3Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Heredia, Costa Rica
  • 4Johannes Gutenberg-University, Institute of Geosciences, Mainz, Germany
  • 5Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 6Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Palermo, Italy
  • 7Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales, Managua, Nicaragua
  • anow at: University of Bayreuth, Atmospheric Chemistry, Bayreuth, Germany

Abstract. Volcanoes are a natural source of several reactive gases (e.g., sulfur and halogen containing species) and nonreactive gases (e.g., carbon dioxide) to the atmosphere. The relative abundance of carbon and sulfur in volcanic gas as well as the total sulfur dioxide emission rate from a volcanic vent are established parameters in current volcano-monitoring strategies, and they oftentimes allow insights into subsurface processes. However, chemical reactions involving halogens are thought to have local to regional impact on the atmospheric chemistry around passively degassing volcanoes. In this study we demonstrate the successful deployment of a multirotor UAV (quadcopter) system with custom-made lightweight payloads for the compositional analysis and gas flux estimation of volcanic plumes. The various applications and their potential are presented and discussed in example studies at three volcanoes encompassing flight heights of 450 to 3300m and various states of volcanic activity. Field applications were performed at Stromboli volcano (Italy), Turrialba volcano (Costa Rica) and Masaya volcano (Nicaragua). Two in situ gas-measuring systems adapted for autonomous airborne measurements, based on electrochemical and optical detection principles, as well as an airborne sampling unit, are introduced. We show volcanic gas composition results including abundances of CO2, SO2 and halogen species. The new instrumental setups were compared with established instruments during ground-based measurements at Masaya volcano, which resulted in CO2SO2 ratios of 3.6±0.4. For total SO2 flux estimations a small differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) system measured SO2 column amounts on transversal flights below the plume at Turrialba volcano, giving 1776±1108Td−1 and 1616±1007Td−1 of SO2 during two traverses. At Stromboli volcano, elevated CO2SO2 ratios were observed at spatial and temporal proximity to explosions by airborne in situ measurements. Reactive bromine to sulfur ratios of 0.19 × 10−4 to 9.8 × 10−4 were measured in situ in the plume of Stromboli volcano, downwind of the vent.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Volcanic gas emission studies are important for monitoring active volcanoes, obtaining insights into subsurface processes and opening up an interesting domain for atmospheric chemistry investigations. Using an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone, we were able to study various volcanic gases at sites which are typically too dangerous to access otherwise. The use of drones for volcano monitoring and gas measurements in harsh environments was successfully assessed.
Volcanic gas emission studies are important for monitoring active volcanoes, obtaining insights...