12 Oct 2020

12 Oct 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ACP.

SO2 and BrO emissions of Masaya volcano from 2014–2020

Florian Dinger1,2, Timo Kleinbek2, Steffen Dörner1, Nicole Bobrowski1,2, Ulrich Platt1,2, Thomas Wagner1,2, Martha Ibarra3, and Eveling Espinoza3 Florian Dinger et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institut for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Institute for Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • 3Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales, Managua, Nicaragua

Abstract. Masaya volcano (Nicaragua, 12.0° N, 86.2° W, 635 m a.s.l.) is one of the few volcanoes hosting a lava lake, today. We present continuous time series of SO2 emission fluxes and BrO / SO2 molar ratios in the gas plume of Masaya from March 2014 to March 2020. This study has two foci: (1) discussing the state of the art of long-term SO2 emission flux monitoring on the example of Masaya and (2) the provision and discussion of a continuous dataset on volcanic gas data unique in its temporal coverage, which poses a major extension of the empirical data base for studies on the volcanologic as well as atmospheric bromine chemistry.

Our SO2 emission flux retrieval is based on a comprehensive investigation of various aspects of the spectroscopic retrievals, the wind conditions, and the plume height. Our retrieved SO2 emission fluxes are on average a factor of 1.4 larger than former estimates based on the same data. We furthermore observed a correlation between the SO2 emission fluxes and the wind speed when several of our retrieval extensions are not applied. We make plausible that such a correlation is not expected and present a partial correction of this artefact via applying dynamic estimates for the plume height as a function of the wind speed (resulting in a vanishing correlation for wind speeds larger than 10 m/s).

Our empirical data set covers the three time periods (1) before the lava lake elevation, (2) period of high lava lake activity (December 2015–May 2018), (3) after the period of high lava lake activity. For these three time periods, we report average SO2 emission fluxes of 1000 ± 200 t d−1, 1000 ± 300 t d−1, and 700 ± 200 t d−1 and average BrO / SO2 molar ratios of (2.9 ± 1.5) × 10−5, (4.8 ± 1 : 9) ×10−5, and (5.5 ± 2–6) × 10−5. These variations indicate that the two gas proxies provide complementary information: the BrO / SO2 molar ratios were susceptible in particular for the transition between the two former periods while the SO2 emission fluxes were in particular susceptible for the transition between the two latter time periods.

We observed an extremely significant annual cyclicity for the BrO / SO2 molar ratios (amplitudes between 1–4–2–6 × 10−5) with a weak semi-annual modulation. We suggest that this cyclicity might be a manifestation of meteorological cycles. We found an anti-correlation between the BrO / SO2 molar ratios and the atmospheric water concentration (correlation coefficient of −47 %) but in contrast to that neither a correlation with the ozone mixing ratio (+21 %) nor systematic dependencies between the BrO / SO2 molar ratios and the atmospheric plume age for an age range of 2–20 min after the release from the volcanic edifice. The two latter observations indicate an early stop of the autocatalytic partial transformation of bromide Br solved in aerosol particles to atmospheric BrO.

Further patterns in the BrO / SO2 time series were (1) a step increase by 0.7 × 10−5 in late 2015, (2) a linear trend of 1.2 × 10−5 per year from December 2015 to March 2018, and (3) a linear trend of −0.8 × 10−5 per year from June 2018 to March 2020. The step increase in 2015 coincided with the 55 elevation of the lava lake and was thus most likely caused by a change in the magmatic system. The linear trend between late 2015 and early 2018 may indicate the evolution of the magmatic gas phase during the ascent of juvenile gas-rich magma whereas the linear trend from June 2018 on may indicate a decreasing bromine abundance in the magma.

Florian Dinger et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Florian Dinger et al.

Florian Dinger et al.


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Short summary
Monitoring magnitude or chemical composition of volcanic gas emissions can help to forecast volcanic eruptions and provides empirical data on the impact of volcanoes on the chemistry in the local and global atmosphere. This study reports and discusses continuous time series of the sulphur and bromine emission fluxes of Masaya volcano from 2014–2020. We observed an annual cyclicity in the BrO / SO2 molar ratio, possibly caused by the annual variability in the atmospheric humidity.