Sulphur dioxide emission rate measurements are an important tool for volcanic monitoring and eruption risk assessment. The SO2 camera technique remotely measures volcanic emissions by analysing the ultraviolet absorption of SO2 in a narrow spectral window between 300 and 320 nm using solar radiation scattered in the atmosphere. The SO2 absorption is selectively detected by mounting band-pass interference filters in front of a two-dimensional, UV-sensitive CCD detector. One important step for correct SO2 emission rate measurements that can be compared with other measurement techniques is a correct calibration. This requires conversion from the measured optical density to the desired SO2 column density (CD). The conversion factor is most commonly determined by inserting quartz cells (cuvettes) with known amounts of SO2 into the light path. Another calibration method uses an additional narrow field-of-view Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy system (NFOVDOAS), which measures the column density simultaneously in a small area of the camera’s field-of-view. This procedure combines the very good spatial and temporal resolution of the SO2 camera technique with the more accurate column densities obtainable from DOAS measurements.
This work investigates the uncertainty of results gained through the two commonly used, but quite different, calibration methods (DOAS and calibration cells). Measurements with three different instruments, an SO2 camera, a NFOVDOAS system and an Imaging DOAS (I-DOAS), are presented. We compare the calibration-cell approach with the calibration from the NFOV-DOAS system. The respective results are compared with measurements from an I-DOAS to verify the calibration curve over the spatial extent of the image. The results show that calibration cells, while working fine in some cases, can lead to an overestimation of the SO2 CD by up to 60% compared with CDs from the DOAS measurements. Besides these errors of calibration, radiative transfer effects (e.g. light dilution, multiple scattering) can significantly influence the results of both instrument types. The measurements presented in this work were taken at Popocatepetl, Mexico, between 1 March 2011 and 4 March 2011. Average SO2 emission rates between 4.00 and 14.34 kg s−1 were observed.