Early detection of volcanic hazard by lidar measurement of carbon dioxide


Volcanic gases give information on magmatic processes. In particular, anomalous releases of carbon dioxide precede volcanic eruptions. Up to now, this gas has been measured in volcanic plumes with conventional measurements that imply the severe risks of local sampling and can last many hours. For these reasons and for the great advantages of laser sensing, the thorough development of volcanic lidars has been undertaken at ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development). In fact, lidar profiling allows one to scan remotely volcanic plumes in a fast and continuous way, and with high spatial and temporal resolution. A differential absorption lidar instrument will be presented in this paper: BILLI (BrIdge voLcanic LIdar). It is based on injection-seeded Nd:YAG laser, double-grating dye laser, difference frequency mixing and optical parametric amplifier. BILLI is funded by the ERC (European Research Council) project BRIDGE (BRIDging the gap between Gas Emissions and geophysical observations at active volcanos). It scanned the gas emitted by Pozzuoli Solfatara (Naples, Italy) and Stromboli Volcano (Sicily, Italy) during field campaigns carried out from October 13 to 17, 2014, and from June 24 to 29, 2015, respectively. Carbon dioxide concentration maps were retrieved remotely in few minutes in the crater areas. To our knowledge, it is the first time that carbon dioxide in a volcanic plume is retrieved by lidar. This result represents the first direct measurement of this kind ever performed on active volcanos and shows the high potential of laser remote sensing in early detection of volcanic hazard.

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The authors are grateful to ENEA, in general, and Aldo Pizzuto, Roberta Fantoni and Antonio Palucci, in particular, for constant encouragement. They warmly thank Maria Sarcì, Dario Sisia and Raimondo Spadaro of ENEL for hosting BILLI inside the fence of the power plant and for electrical power. The support from the ERC project BRIDGE, No. 305377, is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Luca Fiorani.

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Fiorani, L., Santoro, S., Parracino, S. et al. Early detection of volcanic hazard by lidar measurement of carbon dioxide. Nat Hazards 83, 21–29 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-016-2209-0

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  • Volcanic hazard
  • Gas detection
  • Laser remote sensing
  • Differential absorption lidar