Photo showing technologies for monitoring volcanic gas emissions.
Two complementary technologies for monitoring volcanic gas emissions. Panel (a) shows the field of view of a conventional ground-based ultraviolet absorption spectrometer, looking through the gas plume from Bagana Volcano and panel (b) shows an image of the measured total column density of sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the area highlighted by the dashed box. Panel (c) shows the new “crab-copter” drone, carrying a miniaturized spectrometer, being prepared for a flight through the plume, where it can measure local rather than integrated concentrations of gases including SO2 and CO2. Credit: McCormick Kilbride et al. [2023], Figure 3
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

Volcanoes are highly dynamic, time-variable systems that pose major local and regional hazards as well as long-term effects on climate. Many remote volcanoes are poorly monitored and acquiring time-series data on their gas emissions has been a challenge for existing resources and technologies.

As a complement to traditional ground-based and satellite-based methods, McCormick Kilbride et al. [2023] demonstrate a pioneering use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to monitor volcanic gas emissions at Bagana Volcano in Papua New Guinea. Its remote location and variable activity have posed a challenge for quantifying its emissions and forecasting eruption hazard. Although ground-based and satellite instruments have been able to monitor SO2, they are not able to determine CO2 fluxes. The drone, on the other hand, by flying directly through the gas plume and determining the local CO2/SO2 ratio, provides the additional constraint needed to quantify net CO2 emission from the volcano. This approach is important for monitoring of inaccessible volcanoes and for constraining the global volcanic CO2 flux.

Citation: McCormick Kilbride, B. T., Nicholson, E. J., Wood, K. T., Wilkes, T. C., Schipper, C. I., Mulina, K., et al. (2023). Temporal variability in gas emissions at Bagana volcano revealed by aerial, ground, and satellite observations. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 24, e2022GC010786.

—Paul Asimow, Editor, G-Cubed

Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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