DECADE Installation at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua

A team of volcanologists from the University of Palermo and INGV received funding from the Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE) initiative to instrument four volcanoes in 2014 with a network of permanent multiGAS devices.

A team of volcanologists from the University of Palermo (UniPa, Italy) and Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV, Italy) has received funding (PI, Aiuppa) from the Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE) initiative of the Deep Carbon Observatory to instrument four volcanoes in 2014 with a network of permanent multiGAS devices. After successful installation of the first two instruments in Costa Rica in February 2014, a new multiGAS instrument was installed at Masaya volcano in Nicaragua during the first week of March 2014. This instrument will monitor CO2/SO2 ratios in the plume by quantifying volcanic CO2 output in combination with SO2 output measured by the NOVAC network (Network for Observation of Volcanic and Atmospheric Change; run by Chalmers University, Sweden). An international team of scientists from INETER (Angélica Muñoz, José Armando Saballos Julio Alvarez, Martha Ibarra, Leonardo Hoffman - Nicaragua), Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - INGV (Gaetano Giudice, Sergio Gurrieri, Marco Liuzzo - Italy), and Chalmers University (Vladimir Conde - Sweden) carried out the fieldwork.


Masaya was selected as a DECADE monitoring site because of its persistent emissions of volatiles, making it one of the strongest volcanic point sources in the Central America Volcanic Arc (CAVA) segment. Because of its relatively low elevation (approximately 500m a.s.l.), gas emissions from Masaya exert a substantial impact on areas exposed to the gas plume. 

The multiGAS instrument, including radio transmitters and case, was assembled and calibrated at UniPa-INGV, Italy, while auxiliary hardware (solar panels, batteries, masts, etc.) was provided by INETER. As in previous installations in Costa Rica, the installation team spent two days testing equipment and telemetry. They also conducted an explorative field survey with a portable multiGAS unit to identify the best location for the permanent installation, requirements being frequent fumigation by the plume and good coverage by telemetry. The team deployed the permanent multiGAS instrument on the western rim of the persistent degassing vent of Masaya crater, at an elevation of 539m a.s.l.

After installation of the multiGAS, the team configured a radio-link at two sites to complete automatic procedures of data acquisition (sample data shown right). The team monitored transmissions over several days to ensure correct functioning. Radios currently transmit data at regular intervals to servers at INETER and Chalmers University.  

As for other volcanoes included in the DECADE initiative, researchers will combine data acquired at Masaya with SO2 flux data from fixed scanning DOAS systems (installed through the NOVAC project) to quantify CO2 output. This pioneering initiative is an important step in improving volcano monitoring at Masaya, as well as providing vital information for the DECADE initiative.

The Masaya MultiGAS station and the team in the field.

Left to right: José Armando Saballos, Martha Ibarra, Vladimir Conde, Gaetano Giudice, Leonardo Hoffman.

Report and images provided by Marco Liuzzo, Alessandro Aiuppa, and Angélica Muñoz.

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