Electrochemical sensing of volcanic gases

Roberts, T.J.; Braban, C.F.; Oppenheimer, C.; Martin, R.S.; Freshwater, R.A.; Dawson, D.H.; Griffiths, P.T.; Cox, R.A.; Saffell, J.R.; Jones, R.L.. 2012 Electrochemical sensing of volcanic gases. Chemical Geology, 332-33. 74-91.

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We report here the development and application of a compact “geochemical nose” incorporating electrochemical sensors for gas measurements in volcanic plumes. A novel element of the instrument design is the arrangement of the sensors in a parallel array that enables near-simultaneous exposure and fast response. Data analysis methods were developed that utilise the multi-sensor output currents to extract gas mixing ratio abundances and eliminate cross-sensitivities. Use of filter methods is demonstrated to remove baseline drift or instrument noise. We introduce a new approach for analysis of measurements from sensors that have a slower response time (e.g. HCl), and apply this model to estimate HCl/SO2 ratios. We deployed the sensor system at Aso volcano, Japan, detecting emissions from its fumarole field hot crater lake, and a mixed plume. We measured SO2, H2S, CO and HCl, ranging in abundance from ~ 102–104 ppbv. Neither NO2 nor Cl2 were detected. For the fumarolic gases, molar ratios were measured as follows: H2S/SO2 is ~ 0.15, H2/SO2 ~ 0.25, CO/SO2 ~ 0.02, HCl/SO2 ~ 0.1. The crater lake plume's H2S/SO2 is ~ 0.03. The compositions are discussed in terms of degassing equilibria and plume chemistry. Our instrument design represents a cost-effective, low-power and highly portable system that can be readily adapted for operational surveillance of volcanic gases.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Billett (to November 2013)
ISSN: 0009-2541
Additional Keywords: volcano, emission, multi-gas, in situ, sensor, magmatic
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 31 Oct 2012 16:04 +0 (UTC)

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