Optical sensing of volcanic gas and aerosol emissions
Published:January 01, 2003
Volcanic gas and aerosol surveillance yield important insights into magmatic, hydrothermal, and atmospheric processes. A range of optical sensing and sampling techniques has been applied to measurements of the composition and fluxes of volcanic emissions. In particular, the 30-year worldwide volcanological service record of the Correlation Spectrometer (COSPEC) illustrates the point that robust, reliable, straightforward optical techniques are of tremendous interest to the volcano observatory and research community. This chapter reviews the field, in particular the newer and more versatile instruments capable of augmenting or superseding COSPEC, with the aim of stimulating their rapid adoption by the volcanological community. It focuses on sensors that can be operated from the ground, since they generally offer the most flexibility and sensitivity. The success of COSPEC underlines the point, however, that such devices should be comparatively cheap, and easy to use and maintain, if they are to be widely used.
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Humans have long marvelled at (and feared) the odorous and colourful manifestations of volcanic emissions, and, in some cases, have harnessed them for their economic value. The degassing process responsible for these phenomena is now understood to be one of the key factors influencing the timing and nature of volcanic eruptions. Moreover the surface emissions of these volatiles can have profound effects on the atmospheric and terrestrial environment, and climate. Even more fundamental are the relationships between the history of planetary outgassing, differentiation of the Earth’s interior, chemistry of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the origin and evolution of life. This book provides a compilation of 23 papers that investigate the behaviour of volatiles in magma, the feedbacks between degassing and magma dynamics, and the composition, flux, and environmental, atmospheric and climatic impacts of volcanic gas emissions.