Involcan brings its experience in the measurement of diffuse gases to São Jorge

Involcan brings its experience in the measurement of diffuse gases to São Jorge

The team of three Involcan researchers works side by side with their Portuguese colleagues on the measurement of diffuse gases in the atmosphere. / C7

A working group has traveled to the Azores to support Portuguese scientific institutions in volcanological monitoring tasks

Carmen Delia Aranda

A team from
Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan)made up of researchers María Asensio, Juan Manuel Santana and Maud Smit, has moved to
Azores to collaborate with the scientific institutions of the archipelago in the volcanological monitoring of
the island of São Jorge, in seismic alertsince last March 19.

Since then, on the small island of 243.6 square kilometers and located in the center of the archipelago, around
30,000 tremorsanticipation of a possible volcanic eruption for the first time since 1808.

Whether the volcano will emerge shortly or within centuries is the secret that the island keeps in its bowels and that scientists are trying to decipher with the baggage stored in the recent
Cumbre Vieja experience.

"There is more
differences What similarities between what happened on the island of
La Palma between September 12 and 19, 2021 and what is being observed in
Sao Jorge. During the pre-eruptive phase of Cumbre Vieja, a set of events were observed that clearly indicated an ascent of magma towards the surface. In São Jorge, in the first days an ascent of the magma and an intense seismicity were observed, in a similar way to that of Cumbre Vieja. Subsequently, what appears to be a
lateral migration of magma at depthalong the ridge that constitutes the main geological structure of the island", says the coordinator of Involcan,
Nemesio Perezwhich recognizes that it is difficult to predict which eruptive and non-eruptive scenarios could take place.

Whether the ground opens or not, the first Involcán team transferred to São Jorge will be on the island until next April 28 to support colleagues from the Centro de Informação e Vigilância Sismovulcânica dos Açores (CIVISA) and Instituto de Investigação in Volcanology and Risk Assessment - Universidade dos Açores (IVAR), explains Pérez.

Specifically, your task will be
geochemical monitoring of diffuse emanations from
carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere by the insular volcanic system of São Jorge, as well as “monitor the diffuse emission of
helium (He) and hydrogen (H2) by performing in-situ measurements and taking samples of gases from the soil atmosphere in around
383 observation points for subsequent chemical and isotopic analysis”, explains the coordinator of the volcanological research group.

«The scientific argument behind the diffuse emission studies of helium (He) lies in the low solubility of this gas in the silicate melts (magmas), in its condition of inert gas and in its low solubility in water, favoring a rapid transfer of this gas to the surface. In the case of hydrogen (H2) it would highlight its characteristics as a light gas with high mobility through the crust”, explains Pérez about the usefulness of these measurements.


The Invocan team stationed in Azores initially moved to
Sao Miguelthe most populated island of the archipelago, to
train their Portuguese colleagues in the handling of gas measurement equipment identifying the emanations of a thermoelectric plant.

«Another of the tasks of the Involcan team displaced to the Azores is to train the Civisa and IVAR personnel in the
use of remote optical sensors type miniDOAS in a mobile land or sea position to estimate the emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2) that would be generated by an eruptive process in the Azores. The monitoring and measurement of this geochemical parameter is very important for monitoring an ongoing eruptive process”, emphasizes the veteran volcanologist.

Two decades of international scientific collaboration

The relationship of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan) with the
scientific institutions of Azores it is long and fruitful. “Our R&D group has been carrying out scientific collaboration work with our colleagues at the Universidade dos Açores for
22 years ago thanks to transnational cooperation programs co-financed by the European Commission”, explains the scientific coordinator of Involcan, Nemesio Pérez.

In fact, this link was made clear in the volcanic surveillance tasks on La Palma. "The companions of
IVARsupported Involcan in the geodetic monitoring of the island of La Palma. More specifically, they helped us in the installation and use of
inclinometers, sensors capable of measuring the weak slope of the terrain associated with volcanic activity». Now, Involcan returns the favor by sending an inclinometer to São Jorge and providing scientific support from the Canary Islands in geodetic monitoring.

But there are even more ties that Involcán has with the scientific institutions that study the
volcanic risk in Macaronesia. «Currently Involcan leads the project
Volriskmac II in which the ITER, Centro de Informação e Vigilância Sismovulcânica dos Açores (Civisa), Universidade dos Açores (UAc), Fundação Gaspar Frutuoso (Açores), Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza, IP-RAM (Madeira ), Universidade de Cabo Verde (UniCV), and Laboratório de Engenharia de Cabo Verde (LEC)", explains Pérez, who recalls that the Canarian institute has participated in other Macaronesian projects such as Alerta, Alerta II, Makavol, Fogo or Volriskmac I .

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