Gas emissions are a manifestation of the activity that occurs below the surface of the volcano. Measuring them allows researchers to see what cannot be seen from the surface. This knowledge is vital for monitoring hazards and predicting future eruptions. Since the mid-2000s, UV SO2 Cameras have become important tools for measurementemissions.
However, measurement campaigns must be accompanied by a user, which makes SO2 Cameras are not suitable for acquiring long-term data sets. This type of camera can cost upwards of $20,000 to build and operate, resulting in very few permanently installed cameras.
To obtain better long-term monitoring data, an international team of researchers has developed SO2 A camera to constantly measure emission rates from volcanoes. They have now published an article about the camera design and two sets of raw data in Frontiers in Earth Sciences.
“Our tool uses a sensor not unlike smartphone camera sensors. It has been modified to make it UV sensitive, thus enabling SO2 reveal,” said Dr Thomas Wilkes, a researcher at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the study.
Less expensive and energy intensive
Compared to previous models, the researchers found SO2 The camera is much cheaper and consumes less power. The new design comes with a price tag of around $5,000, which reduces the cost of the parts needed to build the camera to nearly a quarter of previous models.
“Whenever possible, we 3D print parts as well, to keep costs as low as possible,” Wilkes explained. “We also offer easy-to-use, freely available software to control the instrument and process the acquired data in a robust way.” Its affordability and ease of use make the camera accessible to more volcanologists who may not have access to datasets containing accurate gas emission rates.
In addition, the system’s power consumption is low, averaging 3.75 watts. This is about half of what was required for previously introduced power systems. The researchers wrote that this would be especially useful in locations where there is little solar energy to harness. Their camera runs on fewer or smaller solar panels or batteries, which lowers the overall cost even further.
While there are other tools for measuring volcanic emissions, the SO2 The camera can provide data with higher temporal and spatial resolution which, when permanently installed, can facilitate new volcanic research,” said Wilkes.
Data from Chile and Hawaii
Wilkes and his team also provided two sets of raw data from Lascar, a stratovolcano in Chile, and Kilauea, a shield volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, where their camera is in continuous operation.
Before now, only three volcanoes had permanent SO2 “Cameras were installed on it,” said Wilkes. Separate field campaigns have been undertaken, and while they can be invaluable to a range of research questions, it is important to be able to measure volcanic activity consistently, as it can vary widely from minutes to decades to centuries and beyond.”
Despite being cost effective and easy to use, the researchers pointed out some limitations of SO2 Cameras: “It’s dependent on meteorological conditions, and works best under clear blue skies when the volcanic gas plume is moving at a 90-degree angle in the camera’s direction of view,” said Wilkes.
New, low-cost, low-energy permanent SO2 a camera for the continuous measurement of volcanic emissions, Frontiers in Earth Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.3389/feart.2023.1088992
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