Prodigious sulfur dioxide emissions from Nyamuragira volcano, D.R. Congo

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Nyamuragira (Virunga chain, D.R. Congo) is among Africa's most active volcanoes, but direct observations of its eruptions are rare. From 1978-2002 the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instruments measured SO2 emissions during each of Nyamuragira's 13 most recent eruptions. Due to continuous co-eruptive SO2 degassing, estimating the total atmospheric SO2 loading resulting from eruptions of Nyamuragira is not straightforward. Using TOMS SO2 plume cross-sections and model wind profiles we derive eruptive SO2 fluxes and SO2 loss rates for emissions on 19 October 1998 and 6 February 2001, giving peak SO2 fluxes of 0.21 and 0.74 Tg day-1 respectively and loss rates of ∼10-6- 10-5 s-1. Based on current data, time-averaged SO2 emission rates at Nyamuragira are comparable to persistent emitters (Etna, Kilauea), but eruptive fluxes at Nyamuragira are much higher. Considering the alkaline composition of Virunga lavas, eruptive CO2 fluxes could be seven times the SO2 flux. Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union.

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Geophysical Research Letters