First synoptic analysis of volcanic degassing in Papua New Guinea


We report the first satellite‐based survey of volcanic sulphur dioxide (SO2) degassing in Papua New Guinea, using Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) data. OMI is sensitive to low‐level passive degassing. These observations are useful for volcano monitoring, hazard assessment (particularly aviation hazard) and assessment of arc geochemical budgets and are of immense value in remote regions with little ground‐based instrumentation, such as Papua New Guinea. We identify Bagana, Manam, Rabaul, Ulawun and Langila as the active sources of volcanic SO2 in Papua New Guinea, with Bagana being the largest source. We present an OMI SO2 time series for 2005–2008 and a total detected regional output of ∼1.8 × 109 kg SO2. About 40% of emissions were released by major eruption events at Manam (January 2005), Bagana (June 2006) and Rabaul (October 2006). Over the past century however, we estimate that major explosive eruptions contribute <5% of the arc‐scale SO2emission budget. Ground‐based DOAS measurements of SO2 degassing at five of Papua New Guinea’s volcanoes are compared with our OMI observations. The total OMI SO2 output is only ∼20% of the total extrapolated from DOAS, a discrepancy which we demonstrate is consistent with other volcanic arcs. Therefore, the true total regional SO2 output may be considerably higher than that detected by OMI. Uncertainties in the OMI SO2data include the effects of in‐plume chemical processing and dilution of SO2 prior to the satellite overpass, OMI’s reduced sensitivity to low levels of SO2 in the planetary boundary layer and interference by meteorological clouds.

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems