iFit: a simple method for measuring volcanic SO2 without a measured Fraunhofer reference spectrum

Benjamin Esse, Mike Burton, Matthew Varnam, Ryunosuke Kazahaya, Giuseppe Salerno

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Accurate quantification of the emission rate of sulphur dioxide (SO2) from volcanoes provides both insights into magmatic processes and a powerful monitoring tool for hazard mitigation. The primary method for measuring magmatic SO2 is Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS) of UV scattered sunlight spectra, in which a reference spectrum taken outside the plume is used to quantify the SO2 slant column density inside the plume. This can lead toproblems if the reference spectrum is contaminated with SO2 as this will result in a systematic underestimation of the retrieved SO2 slant column density, and therefore emission rate. We present a new analysis method, named “iFit”, which retrieves the SO2 slant column density from UV spectra by directly fitting the measured intensity spectrum at high spectral resolution (0.01 nm) using a literature solar reference spectrum and measured instrument characteristics. This eliminates the requirement for a measured reference spectrum, providing a “point and shoot” method for quantifying SO2 slant column densities. We show that iFit retrieves correct SO2 slant column densities in a series of test cases, finding agreement with existing methods. We propose that iFit is suitable for both traverse measurements and permanent scanning stations, and could be integrated into volcano monitoring networks at observatories. Finally, we provide an open source software implementation of iFit with a user friendly graphical interface to allow users to easily utilise iFit.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107000
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2020


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