Radon surveys and monitoring at active volcanoes: learning from Vesuvius, Stromboli, La Soufrière and Villarrica
C. Cigolini, M. Laiolo, D. Coppola, C. Trovato, G. Borgogno, 2018. "Radon surveys and monitoring at active volcanoes: learning from Vesuvius, Stromboli, La Soufrière and Villarrica", Radon, Health and Natural Hazards, G. K. Gillmore, F. E. Perrier, R. G. M. Crockett
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Understanding the behaviour of fluids in hydrothermal systems is a key factor in volcano monitoring. Measuring gas emissions in volcanic areas is strategic for detecting and interpreting precursory signals of variations in volcanic activity. The role of radon as a potential precursor of earthquakes has been extensively debated. However, radon anomalies appear to be better suited to forecast eruptive episodes as we know the loci of volcanic eruptions and we can follow the evolution of volcanic activity. Radon mapping is an effective tool in assessing diffuse and concentrated degassing at the surface. We hereby summarize the in-soil radon emissions collected worldwide and further discuss a collection of data on our key targets. These are closed-conduit and open-conduit volcanoes: Vesuvius (Italy) and La Soufrière (Guadeloupe, Lesser Antilles), Stromboli (Italy) and Villarrica (Chile), respectively. In all the above volcanoes, faults and fracture systems control radon degassing. Automatic and real-time measurements help us to detect major changes in volcanic activity. We present and discuss the radon time series associated with the last effusive eruption at Stromboli. Spectral analyses reveal diurnal and semi-diurnal cycles being probably modulated by atmospheric variations. Multiple linear regression (MLR) analyses have been performed by filtering the radon signals from the effects of local environmental parameters. The residuals do not show particular variations or precursory peaks as the gases have been released from this open-conduit volcano before the onset of the effusive phase (7 August 2014).
It is finally emphasized that radon is not the sole precursor, and we should also rely on other geochemical and geophysical parameters. In this perspective, we propose a methodological procedure that can contribute to improving volcano surveillance in an attempt to mitigate volcanic risk.