14 Dec 2020

14 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

A multi-purpose, multi-rotor drone system for long range and high-altitude volcanic gas plume measurements

Bo Galle1, Santiago Arellano1, Nicole Bobrowski2,3, Vladimir Conde1, Tobias P. Fischer4, Gustav Gerdes5, Alexandra Gutmann6, Thorsten Hoffmann6, Ima Itikarai7, Tomas Krejci8, Emma J. Liu9,10, Kila Mulina7, Scott Nowicki4,11, Tom Richardson12, Julian Rüdiger6, Kieran Wood12, and Jiazhi Xu1 Bo Galle et al.
  • 1Department of Earth, Space and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, SE 41296, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2Institute for Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
  • 3Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128, Mainz, Germany
  • 4Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, 87131, Albuquerque, NM, United States
  • 5GerdesSolutions AB, 128 41, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 6Department of Chemistry, Johannes Gutenberg-University, 55099, Mainz, Germany
  • 7Rabaul Volcano Observatory, P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
  • 8HAB Electronic AB, 34140, Ljungby, Sweden
  • 9Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EQ, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 10Department of Earth Sciences, WC1E 6BS, University College London, London, United Kingdom
  • 11Quantum Spatial, Inc. Albuquerque, NM, United States
  • 12Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol, BS8 1TR, Bristol, United Kingdom

Abstract. A multi-copter drone has been adapted for studies of volcanic gas plumes. This adaptation includes improved capacity for high altitude and long range, real-time SO2 concentration monitoring, long range manual control, remotely-activated bag sampling, and plume speed measurement capability. The drone is capable of acting as a stable platform for various instrument configurations including: MultiGAS instruments for in-situ measurements of SO2, H2S, CO2 and H2O concentrations in the gas plume, MobileDOAS instruments for spectroscopic measurement of total SO2 emission rate, remotely-controlled gas sampling in bags and sampling with gas denuders for posterior analysis on the ground of isotopic composition and halogens.

The platform we present has been field-tested during three campaigns in Papua New Guinea: in 2016 at Tavurvur, Bagana and Ulawun volcanoes, in 2018 at Tavurvur and Langila volcanoes and in 2019 at Tavurvur and Manam volcanoes; as well as in Mt. Etna in Italy in 2017.

This paper describes the drone platform and the multiple payloads, the various measurement strategies, an algorithm to correct for different time-responses of MultiGAS sensors. Specifically, we emphasise the need for an adaptive flight path, together with live data transmission of a plume tracer (such as SO2 concentration) to the ground station, to ensure optimal plume interception when operating beyond visual line of sight. We present results from a comprehensive plume characterization obtained during a field deployment at Manam volcano in May 2019. The Papua New Guinea region, and particularly Manam volcano, has not been extensively studied for volcanic gases due to its remote location, inaccessible summit region and high level of volcanic activity. We demonstrate that the combination of a multi-rotor with modular payloads is a versatile solution to obtain the flux and composition of volcanic plumes, even for the case of a highly active volcano with a high-altitude plume such as Manam. Drone-based measurements offer a valuable solution to volcano research and monitoring applications, and provide an alternative and complementary method to ground-based and direct sampling of volcanic gases.

Bo Galle et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Bo Galle et al.

Bo Galle et al.


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Short summary
Measurements of volcanic gases is important for geophysical research, risk assessment and environmental impact studies. Some gases, like SO2 and BrO, may be studied from ground at a safe distance using remote sensing techniques. Many other gases require in-situ access to the gas plume. Here a drone may be an attractive alternative. This paper describes a drone specially adapted for volcanic gas studies, and demonstrate its use in a field campaign at Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea.