A novel and inexpensive method for measuring volcanic plume water fluxes at high temporal resolution

Alessandro Aiuppa, Giancarlo Tamburello, Giancarlo Tamburello, Tom D. Pering, Marcello Bitetto, Thomas C. Wilkes, Alessandro Aiuppa, Andrew J.S. Mcgonigle

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Water vapour (H2O) is the dominant species in volcanic gas plumes. Therefore,measurements of H2O fluxes could provide valuable constraints on subsurface degassing and magmatic processes. However, due to the large and variable concentration of this species in the background atmosphere, little attention has been devoted to monitoring the emission rates of this species from volcanoes. Instead, the focus has been placed on remote measurements of SO2, which is present in far lower abundances in plumes, and therefore provides poorer single flux proxies for overall degassing conditions. Here, we present a new technique for the measurement of H2O emissions at degassing volcanoes at high temporal resolution (≈1 Hz), via remote sensing with low cost digital cameras. This approach is analogous to the use of dual band ultraviolet (UV) cameras for measurements of volcanic SO2 release, but is focused on near infrared absorption by H2O. We report on the field deployment of these devices on La Fossa crater, Vulcano Island, and the North East Crater of Mt. Etna, during which in-plume calibration was performed using a humidity sensor, resulting in estimated mean H2O fluxes of ≈15 kg·s-1 and ≈34 kg·s-1, respectively, in accordance with previously reported literature values. By combining the Etna data with parallel UV camera and Multi-GAS observations, we also derived, for the first time, a combined record of 1 Hz gas fluxes for the three most abundant volcanic gas species: H2O, CO2, and SO2. Spectral analysis of the Etna data revealed oscillations in the passive emissions of all three species, with periods spanning ≈40-175 s, and a strong degree of correlation between the periodicity manifested in the SO2 and H2O data, potentially related to the similar exsolution depths of these two gases. In contrast, there was a poorer linkage between oscillations in these species and those of CO2, possibly due to the deeper exsolution of carbon dioxide, giving rise to distinct periodic degassing behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalRemote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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    Aiuppa, A., Tamburello, G., Tamburello, G., Pering, T. D., Bitetto, M., Wilkes, T. C., Aiuppa, A., & Mcgonigle, A. J. S. (2017). A novel and inexpensive method for measuring volcanic plume water fluxes at high temporal resolution. Remote Sensing, 9.