Volcano Remote Sensing

Volcano remote sensing.jpgMeasurements of the emission rates (fluxes) of gases released from volcanoes to the atmosphere are important indicators of underground conditions and used in eruption forecasting efforts. Our group has focused on developing the next generation of remote sensing tools for measuring volcanic SO2 fluxes, based on differential optical absorption spectroscopy, and through the use of ultraviolet cameras, to capture data with far higher time resolution and accuracy than possible hitherto. Present research concerns using these technologies to gain new insights into volcanic processes.

Recent Research Highlights

  • Stromboli gas releaseCaptured temporal variations in the passive gas release from Mt. Etna using ultraviolet cameras. These data have been used to unravel, for the first time from the perspective of gas flux data, the short term dynamics of gas transport through magma and passive discharge to the atmosphere in a basaltic volcanic system. An article on this topic will be submitted in due course.
  • The high temporal resolution of the UV cameras (of order 1 Hz) has been used to study the dynamics of strombolian volcanism, for the first time, by characterising the amount of gas released in active (explosions and puffing) vs. passive ways and through detailed comparison of the gas fluxes with contemporaneously acquired geophysical information. An article on this topic is currently sub judice.
  • The first use of the imaging capacity of ultraviolet cameras to capture emission rates from heterogeneous sources in a fumarole field (La Fossa crater, Vulcano), providing more detailed information that available by simply sampling the bulk plume.

    Tamburello, G., Kantzas, E.P., McGonigle, A.J.S., Aiuppa, A. and Guidice, G. (2011). UV camera measurements of fumarole field degassing (La Fossa crater, Vulcano Island), Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 199(1-2), 47-52.
  • Protocols have been defined for the use of the UV camera technology, which has huge potential in volcanology, yet must be applied with due care in order to ensure that meaningful data are acquired – eg: operation with at least two bandpass filters is mandatory.

    Kantzas, E.P., McGonigle, A.J.S., Tamburello, G., Aiuppa, A. and Bryant, R.G. (2010). Protocols for UV camera volcanic SO2 measurements. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 194(1-3), 55-60.
  • The first corroboration of a high time resolution (order 1 Hz) volcanic gas flux and geophysical datasets was performed on Stromboli volcano, demonstrating clear correlation between the gas released in each strombolian explosion and the corresponding seismic and thermal signatures. This integration of data opens the way for more holistic volcanic investigations than possible previously.

    McGonigle, A.J.S., Aiuppa, A., Ripepe, M., Kantzas, E.P. and Tamburello, G. (2009). Spectroscopic capture of 1 Hz volcanic SO2 fluxes and integration with volcano geophysical data. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L21309.

We gratefully acknowledge the sponsors of this work, which include: RCUK (Academic Fellowship to AMcG), NERC (Post Doctoral Fellowship to AMcG); the Rolex Awards for Enterprise; the AXA Research Fund (Post Doctoral Fellowship to EPK); the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia and the Royal Society.