Airborne surveillance of gas emissions from Augustine Volcano and other Cook Inlet volcanoes began in 1990 to identify baseline emission levels during noneruptive conditions. Gas measurements at Augustine for SO2, CO2, and H2S showed essentially no evidence of anomalous degassing through spring 2005. Neither did a measurement on May 10, 2005, right after the onset of low level seismicity and inflation. The following measurement, on December 20, 2005, showed Augustine to be degassing about 600 metric tons per day (t/d) of SO2, and by January 4, 2006, only 7 days before the first explosive event, SO2 emissions had climbed to ten times that amount. Maximum emission rates measured during the subsequent eruption were: 8,930 t/d SO2 (February 24, 2006), 1,800 t/d CO2 (March 9, 2006), and 4.3 t/d H2S (January 19, 2006). In total, 45 measurements for SO2 were made from December 2005 through the end of 2008, with 19 each for CO2 and H2S during the same period. Molar CO2/SO2 ratios averaged about 1.6. In general, SO2 emissions appeared to increase during inflation of the volcanic edifice, whereas CO2 emissions were at their highest during the period of deflation associated with the vigorous effusive phase of the eruption in March. High SO2 was probably associated with degassing of shallow magma, whereas high CO2 likely reflected deep (>4 km) magma recharge of the sub-volcanic plumbing system, For the 2005-6 period, the volcano released a total of about 1.5 x 106 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, a level similar to the annual output of a medium-sized natural-gas-fired powerplant. Augustine also emitted about 8 x 105 tons of SO2, similar to that produced by the 1976 and 1986 eruptions of the volcano.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Emission of SO2, CO2, and H2S from Augustine Volcano, 2002-2008