Elevation effects in volcano applications of the COSPEC
Published:January 01, 2003
Volcano applications commonly involve sizeable departures from the reference pressure and temperature of COSPEC calibration cells. Analysis shows that COSPEC SO2 column abundances and derived mass emission rates are independent of pressure and temperature, and thus unaffected by elevation effects related to deviations from calibration cell reference state. However, path-length concentrations are pressure and temperature dependent. Since COSPEC path-length concentration data assume the reference pressure and temperature of calibration cells, they can lead to large errors when used to calculate SO2 mixing ratios of volcanic plumes. Correction factors for COSPEC path-length concentrations become significant (c. 10%) at elevations of about 1 km (e.g. Kilauea volcano) and rise rapidly to c.80% at 6 km (e.g. Cotopaxi volcano). Calculating SO2 mixing ratios for volcanic plumes directly from COSPEC path-length concentrations always gives low results. Corrections can substantially increase mixing ratios; for example, corrections increase SO2 ppm concentrations reported for the Mount St Helens, Colima, and Erebus plumes by 25-50%. Several arguments suggest it would be advantageous to calibrate COSPEC measurements in column abundance units rather than path-length concentration units.
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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.