Articles | Volume 3, issue 2
J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 3, 355–367, 2014
J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 3, 355–367, 2014

Regular research article 19 Dec 2014

Regular research article | 19 Dec 2014

Development of a portable active long-path differential optical absorption spectroscopy system for volcanic gas measurements

F. Vita1, C. Kern2, and S. Inguaggiato1 F. Vita et al.
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia – Sezione di Palermo – Via Ugo La Malfa, 153, 90146 Palermo, Italy
  • 2U.S. Geological Survey, Cascades Volcano Observatory, 1300 SE Cardinal Ct S100, Vancouver, Washington 98683, USA

Abstract. Active long-path differential optical absorption spectroscopy (LP-DOAS) has been an effective tool for measuring atmospheric trace gases for several decades. However, instruments were large, heavy and power-inefficient, making their application to remote environments extremely challenging. Recent developments in fibre-coupling telescope technology and the availability of ultraviolet light emitting diodes (UV-LEDS) have now allowed us to design and construct a lightweight, portable, low-power LP-DOAS instrument for use at remote locations and specifically for measuring degassing from active volcanic systems. The LP-DOAS was used to measure sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from La Fossa crater, Vulcano, Italy, where column densities of up to 1.2 × 1018 molec cm−2 (~ 500 ppmm) were detected along open paths of up to 400 m in total length. The instrument's SO2 detection limit was determined to be 2 × 1016 molec cm−2 (~ 8 ppmm), thereby making quantitative detection of even trace amounts of SO2 possible. The instrument is capable of measuring other volcanic volatile species as well. Though the spectral evaluation of the recorded data showed that chlorine monoxide (ClO) and carbon disulfide (CS2) were both below the instrument's detection limits during the experiment, the upper limits for the X / SO2 ratio (X = ClO, CS2) could be derived, and yielded 2 × 10−3 and 0.1, respectively. The robust design and versatility of the instrument make it a promising tool for monitoring of volcanic degassing and understanding processes in a range of volcanic systems.