Volcanic sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide measurements using small unmanned aerial systems
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Volcanoes emit gases continuously with significant pre-post-eruption changes, mainly H2O and CO2, plus SO2, and others. The SO2/CO2 ratio changes within volcanic life cycles making it an indicator of oncoming eruption phases: it can dip weeks to months before eruptions, then increase, and decrease back to background after eruptions. Over the last five years, we have made an effort to develop small and inexpensive lighter-than-air and fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms in Costa Rica at Turrialba Volcano. Turrialba is an appropriate natural laboratory to test and prove platforms and instrumentation in low-level steady state volcanogenic gas and aerosol emissions at moderate altitudes (<12Kft ASL), where good technical infrastructure exists, with good physical access to the volcano. Our program in Costa Rica includes: (1) systematic monitoring of Turrialba from orbit with the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer (ASTER), with its thermal infrared (TIR) camera for SO2 retrieval, and more recently with GOSAT and OCO-2 for CO2; (2) in situ observations from aerostats and UAVs during ASTER overpasses, and (3) reconciliation of the orbital results with in situ data to validate mass retrieval and transport models. As part of the NASA HyspIRI Preparatory Airborne Activities program, we will conduct similar observations at Kilauea volcano using small UAVs and for both SO2 and CO2 in situ. One of the salient characteristics of the long lived Kilauea eruptions since 1983 has been the emission of SO2 in significant amounts, generating environmental stresses on local inhabitants due to lowered air quality, and stress on vegetation. Kilauea volcanic plumes, as with Turrialba, are mainly gases and liquid--SO2 is hydrolyzed to H2SO4 and the resulting highly acidic liquid aerosol is termed “vog,” an environmental health hazard. Measurement of the diffuse CO2 emissions at Kilauea will also be of interest. Such measurements at Turrialba, indicate summit CO2 concentrations of up to 4000ppmv, and flank CO2 values of up to1500ppmv. We will discuss our SO2 and CO2 results at Turrialba and in Italy, and plans for Hawaii. Work presented here was done, in part, under contract to the NASA Earth Surface and Interior Focus Area, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology.