Articles | Volume 15, issue 22
Research article
27 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 27 Nov 2015

Composition, size distribution, optical properties, and radiative effects of laboratory-resuspended PM10 from geological dust of the Rome area, by electron microscopy and radiative transfer modelling

A. Pietrodangelo, R. Salzano, C. Bassani, S. Pareti, and C. Perrino

Abstract. In this work, new information has been gained on the laboratory-resuspended PM10 fraction from geological topsoil and outcropped rocks representative of the Rome area (Latium).

Mineralogical composition, size distribution, optical properties and the surface radiative forcing efficiency (RFE) of dust types representing the compositional end members of this geological area have been addressed. A multi-disciplinary approach was used, based on chamber resuspension of raw materials and sampling of the PM10 fraction, to simulate field sampling at dust source, scanning electron microscopy/X-ray energy-dispersive microanalysis (SEM XEDS) of individual mineral particles, X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis of bulk dust samples, building of number and volume size distribution (SD) from microanalysis data of mineral particles and fitting to a log-normal curve, and radiative transfer modelling (RTM) to retrieve optical properties and radiative effects of the compositional end-member dust samples.

The mineralogical composition of Rome lithogenic PM10 varies between an end-member dominated by silicate minerals (from volcanics lithotypes), and one mostly composed of calcite (from travertine or limestones). Lithogenic PM10 with intermediate composition derives mainly from siliciclastic rocks or marlstones. Size and mineral species of PM10 particles of silicate-dominated dust types are tuned mainly by rock weathering and, to lesser extent, by debris formation or crystallization; chemical precipitation of CaCO3 plays a major role in calcite-dominated types. These differences are reflected in the diversity of volume distributions, either within dust types or mineral species. Differences are also observed between volume distributions of calcite from travertine (natural source; SD unimodal at 5 μm a.d.) and from road dust (anthropic source; SD bimodal at 3.8 and 1.8 μm a.d.).

The volcanics and travertine dusts differently affect the single scattering albedo (SSA) and the asymmetry parameter (g) in the visible (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR) regions. The downward component of the bottom-of-atmosphere (BOA) solar irradiance simulated by RTM for an atmosphere where only volcanics (or only travertine dust) composes the aerosol, shows that the volcanics contribution to the solar irradiance differs significantly from that of travertine in the NIR region, while similar contributions are modelled in the VIS. The RFE (−293 W m−2 for volcanics and −139 W m−2 for travertine, at 50° solar zenith angle) shows that volcanics dust produces a stronger cooling effect at surface than travertine, as expected for more absorbing aerosols.

Short summary
New information is given here on mineralogy, microphysical and optical properties, and radiative effects, of PM10 types from surface rocks at a non-desert site (Rome area, Italy). A large data set was built, by SEM XEDS microanalysis, of mineral particles (silicates, quartz and calcite, depending on rocks). Dust types show different size distribution, optical properties, and radiative effects. Radiative transfer modelling (6SV) based on SEM XEDS data is a further original feature of this work.
Final-revised paper