Airborne measurements of sulfur dioxide emission rates in the gas plume emitted from fumaroles in the summit crater of Redoubt Volcano were started on March 20, 1990 using the COSPEC method. During the latter half of the period of intermittent dome growth and destruction, between March 20 and mid-June 1990, sulfur dioxide emission rates ranged from approximately 1250 to 5850 t/d, rates notably higher than for other convergent-plate boundary volcanoes during periods of active dome growth. Emission rates following the end of dome growth from late June 1990 through May 1991 decreased steadily to less than 75 t/d. The largest mass of sulfur dioxide was released during the period of explosive vent clearing when explosive degassing on December 14-15 injected at least 175,000 ?? 50,000 tonnes of SO2 into the atmosphere. Following the explosive eruptions of December 1989, Redoubt Volcano entered a period of intermittent dome growth from late December 1989 to mid-June 1990 during which Redoubt emitted a total mass of SO2 ranging from 572,000 ?? 90,000 tonnes to 680,000 ?? 90,000 tonnes. From mid-June 1990 through May 1991, the volcano was in a state of posteruption degassing into the troposphere, producing approximately 183,000 ?? 50,000 tonnes of SO2. We estimate that Redoubt Volcano released a minimum mass of sulfur dioxide of approximately 930,000 tonnes. While COSPEC data were not obtained frequently enough to enable their use in eruption prediction, SO2 emission rates clearly indicated a consistent decline in emission rates between March through October 1990 and a continued low level of emission rates through the first half of 1991. Values from consecutive daily measurements of sulfur dioxide emission rates spanning the March 23, 1990 eruption decreased in the three days prior to eruption. That decrease was coincident with a several-fold increase in the frequency of shallow seismic events, suggesting partial sealing of the magma conduit to gas loss that resulted in pressurization of the shallow magma system and an increase in earthquake activity. Unlike the short-term SO2 decrease in March 1990, the long-term decrease of sulfur dioxide emission rates from March 1990 through May 1991 was coincident with low rates of seismic energy release and was interpreted to reflect gradual depressurization of the shallow magma reservoir. The long-term declines in seismic energy release and in SO2 emission rates led AVO scientists to conclude on April 19, 1991 that the potential for further eruptive activity from Redoubt Volcano had diminished, and on this basis, the level of concern color code for the volcano was changed from code yellow (Volcano is restless; earthquake activity is elevated; activity may include extrusion of lava) to code green (Volcano is in its normal 'dormant' state). ?? 1994.
Additional publication details
Emission rates of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide from Redoubt Volcano, Alaska during the 1989-1990 eruptions