Evaluation of Redoubt Volcano's sulfur dioxide emissions by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



The 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, provided a rare opportunity to compare satellite measurements of sulfur dioxide (SO2) by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) with airborne SO2 measurements by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). Herein we: (1) compare OMI and airborne SO2 column density values for Redoubt's tropospheric plume, (2) calculate daily SO2 masses from Mount Redoubt for the first three months of the eruption, (3) develop simple methods to convert daily measured SO2 masses into emission rates to allow satellite data to be directly integrated with the airborne SO2 emissions dataset, (4) calculate cumulative SO2 emissions from the eruption, and (5) evaluate OMI as a monitoring tool for high-latitude degassing volcanoes. A linear correlation (R2 ~ 0.75) is observed between OMI and airborne SO2 column densities. OMI daily SO2 masses for the sample period ranged from ~ 60.1 kt on 24 March to below detection limit, with an average daily SO2 mass of ~ 6.7 kt. The highest SO2 emissions were observed during the initial part of the explosive phase and the emissions exhibited an overall decreasing trend with time. OMI SO2 emission rates were derived using three methods and compared to airborne measurements. This comparison yields a linear correlation (R2 ~ 0.82) with OMI-derived emission rates consistently lower than airborne measurements. The comparison results suggest that OMI's detection limit for high latitude, springtime conditions varies from ~ 2000 to 4000 t/d. Cumulative SO2 masses calculated from daily OMI data for the sample period are estimated to range from 542 to 615 kt, with approximately half of this SO2 produced during the explosive phase of the eruption. These cumulative masses are similar in magnitude to those estimated for the 1989–90 Redoubt eruption. Strong correlations between daily OMI SO2 mass and both tephra mass and acoustic energy during the explosive phase of the eruption suggest that OMI data may be used to infer relative eruption size and explosivity. Further, when used in conjunction with complementary datasets, OMI daily SO2 masses may be used to help distinguish explosive from effusive activity and identify changes in lava extrusion rates. The results of this study suggest that OMI is a useful volcano monitoring tool to complement airborne measurements, capture explosive SO2 emissions, and provide high temporal resolution SO2 emissions data that can be used with interdisciplinary datasets to illuminate volcanic processes.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluation of Redoubt Volcano's sulfur dioxide emissions by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2012.03.002
Volume 259
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 290
Last page 307
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Redoubt Volcano