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Surge in sulphur and halogen degassing from Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu


Volcanoes provide important contributions to atmospheric budgets of SO2 and reactive halogens, which play significant roles in atmospheric oxidative capacity and radiation. However, the global source strengths of volcanic emissions remain poorly constrained. These uncertainties are highlighted here by the first measurements of gas emission rates from Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu. Our initial airborne ultraviolet spectroscopic measurements made in January 2005 indicate fluxes of 18–270 kg s-1 of SO2, and 62–110 g s-1 of BrO, into the atmosphere, placing Ambrym amongst the largest known contemporary point sources of both these species on Earth. We also estimate high Cl and F fluxes of ~8–14 and ~27–50 kg s-1, respectively, for this period. Further observations using both airborne and spaceborne remote sensing reveal a fluctuating SO2 output between 2004 and 2008, with a surge in the first half of 2005, and underline the substantial contribution that a single passively degassing volcano can make to the atmospheric budget of sulfur and halogens.

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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (grant NE/B504622/1 to CO), the Agence de Développement Economique de la Nouvelle Calédonie (to PB and ML) the US National Science Foundation (to J.A. Calkins), NASA for the OMI Science Team (to SAC), and the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology (to SJC). For providing the OMI instrument to NASA’s Aura mission, we acknowledge the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI; OMI PI), the Dutch Space Agency (NIVR) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).We thank G. Williams-Jones and an anonymous referee for their beneficial reviews, and P. Delmelle for editorial handling.

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Correspondence to Philipson Bani.

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Editorial responsibility: P. Delmelle

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Bani, P., Oppenheimer, C., Tsanev, V.I. et al. Surge in sulphur and halogen degassing from Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu. Bull Volcanol 71, 1159 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-009-0293-7

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  • Ambrym volcano
  • SO2 and BrO fluxes
  • DOAS
  • OMI