Surge in sulphur and halogen degassing from Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Volcanoes provide important contributions to atmospheric budgets of SO2 and reactive halogens, which play significant roles in atmospheric oxidative capacity and radiation. However, the global source strengths of volcanic emissions remain poorly constrained. These uncertainties are highlighted here by the first measurements of gas emission rates from Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu. Our initial airborne ultraviolet spectroscopic measurements made in January 2005 indicate fluxes of 18-270 kg s-1 of SO2, and 62-110 gs-1 of BrO, into the atmosphere, placing Ambrym amongst the largest known contemporary point sources of both these species on Earth. We also estimate high Cl and F fluxes of ~8-14 and ~27-50 kg s-1, respectively, for this period. Further observations using both airborne and spaceborne remote sensing reveal a fluctuating SO2 output between 2004 and 2008, with a surge in the first half of 2005, and underline the substantial contribution that a single passively degassing volcano can make to the atmospheric budget of sulfur and halogens.

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Bulletin of Volcanology