Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
04 Dec 2003
04 Dec 2003

Characterization of African dust over southern Italy

A. Blanco, F. Dee Tomasi, E. Filippo, D. Manno, M. R. Perrone, A. Serra, A. M. Tafuro, and A. Tepore

Abstract. Dust samples from rainfall residues have been collected in southeast Italy (40º 20' N, 18º 6' E) during dust outbreaks occurred from April to June 2002 to characterize morphological and elemental particle composition by different techniques, and investigate the dependence of particle properties on source regions. Four-day analytical back trajectories and satellite images have been used to infer source regions of the investigated dust samples.

It has been found that the TOMS absorbing aerosol index was in the range 0.7-2.2 over Southern Italy when samples have been collected. The particle-size and -shape analysis by a scanning electron microscope (SEM) has revealed either that the particle-diameter distribution was between 0.3 and 30 mm with median-diameter values between 1.7-2.4 mm, and that the particles were characterized by a roundness factor varying from 0.8 to 2.5. The infrared transmission spectra have allowed recognizing that all dust samples contained a significant amount of illite. The X-ray energy dispersive (EDX) measurements have revealed that the Al/Si ratio of the transported dust varies from 0.41 to 0.50, and that the Al/Si, Ca/Al, K/Ca, and Fe/Ca ratios differ according to source regions and therefore can be used as indicators of dust source regions. Indeed, it has been found that dust samples with larger Ca/Al and Si/Al ratios and lower Fe/Ca and K/Ca ratios, have been collected along dust events with a source region in northwestern Sahara. On the contrary, the samples collected along dust events with the origin mainly in Chad, Niger, Algeria and Lybia were characterized by larger Fe/Ca and K/Ca ratios.

Final-revised paper