Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

Simon Carn

Committee Member 1

Ann Maclean

Committee Member 2

William Rose


Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas has been shown to be detrimental to human and environmental health and is emitted continuously from anthropogenic and volcanic sources. Sulfur dioxide is the main target gas used for the detection of hazardous volcanic plumes due to its ease of detection by satellite sensors. However, quantitative information on potential ground-level exposure to volcanic SO2 (i.e., a volcanic gas ‘hazard map’) is currently unavailable for the vast majority of active volcanoes. Utilizing sulfur dioxide vertical column densities retrieved from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite, Gridded Population of the World v.4, planetary boundary layer height data, and existing inventories of volcanic emitters, along with custom Python scripts and ArcGIS, this research presents a model to visualize and quantify exposure to persistent volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions. Results include a methodology for the creation of volcanic gas hazard maps and a series of global and regional maps displaying sulfur dioxide data and hazard information. This research is potentially applicable to many fields of study including policy and public health, volcanic hazard mitigation and forecasting, and environmental management.

Supplemental Materials:

All map products can be found in the supplemental materials attached with this thesis in ProQuest. Map products are available by contacting the author. There are 12 global maps for each year of data from 2005 to 2016 displaying uncorrected SO2 VCDs in Dobson units with each region displayed in an inset map. There are 84 regional maps of corrected SO2 vertical column density in Dobson units consisting of 12 maps for each of the 7 regions of interest corresponding to each year of data. There are 252 maps displaying regional SO2 concentrations in parts-per-billion: 3 for each of the planetary boundary layer conditions for each of the 12 years of data for all 7 regions. Similarly, there are 252 SO2 hazard maps displaying population count per area within the hazard zones bound by the WHO’s AQG and regional NAAQS.

Included in

Geology Commons