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Development of an automatic volcanic ash sampling apparatus for active volcanoes


We develop an automatic system for the sampling of ash fall particles, to be used for continuous monitoring of magma ascent and eruptive dynamics at active volcanoes. The system consists of a sampling apparatus and cameras to monitor surface phenomena during eruptions. The Sampling Apparatus for Time Series Unmanned Monitoring of Ash (SATSUMA-I and SATSUMA-II) is less than 10 kg in weight and works automatically for more than a month with a 10-kg lead battery to obtain a total of 30 to 36 samples in one cycle of operation. The time range covered in one cycle varies from less than an hour to several months, depending on the aims of observation, allowing researchers to target minute-scale fluctuations in a single eruptive event, as well as daily to weekly trends in persistent volcanic activity. The latest version, SATSUMA-II, also enables control of sampling parameters remotely by e-mail commands. Durability of the apparatus is high: our prototypes worked for several months, in rainy and typhoon seasons, at windy and humid locations, and under strong sunlight. We have been successful in collecting ash samples emitted from Showa crater almost everyday for more than 4 years (2008–2012) at Sakurajima volcano in southwest Japan.

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Development of ash sampling apparatus has not been successful without help of staffs of Technical Division, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University. Observation at Sakurajima has been carried out under the strong support of Sakurajima Volcano Research Center, Kyoto University. The manuscript has been highly improved by fruitful comments and pieces of advice by Jacopo Taddeucci, Daniele Andronico, and Maurizio Ripepe. We thank all of them. This work was supported by DPRI, Kyoto University (general collaboration research 21G-12) and by MEXT/JSPS KAKENHI grant number 18740332 and grant number 24710203 (Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B)).

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Correspondence to Taketo Shimano.

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Editorial responsibility: J. Taddeucci

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Shimano, T., Nishimura, T., Chiga, N. et al. Development of an automatic volcanic ash sampling apparatus for active volcanoes. Bull Volcanol 75, 773 (2013).

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  • Volcanic ash
  • Automatic sampling
  • Time series data
  • Multidisciplinary monitoring