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

Galle, Bo; Arellano, Santiago; Bobrowski, Nicole; Conde, Vladimir; Fischer, Tobias P.; Gerdes, Gustav; Gutmann, Alexandra; Hoffmann, Thorsten; Itikarai, Ima; Krejci, Tomas; Liu, Emma J.; Mulina, Kila; Nowicki, Scott; Richardson, Tom; Rüdiger, Julian; Wood, Kieran; Xu, Jiazhi

A multi-rotor drone has been adapted for studies of volcanic gas plumes. This adaptation includes improved capacity for high-altitude and long-range, real-time inline-formulaSO2 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 multi-component gas analysis system (MultiGAS) instruments for in situ measurements of inline-formulaSO2, inline-formulaH2S, and inline-formulaCO2 concentrations in the gas plume and portable differential optical absorption spectrometer (MobileDOAS) instruments for spectroscopic measurement of total inline-formulaSO2 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 was 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 and an algorithm to correct for different response times of MultiGAS sensors. Specifically, we emphasize the need for an adaptive flight path, together with live data transmission of a plume tracer (such as inline-formulaSO2 concentration) to the ground station, to ensure optimal plume interception when operating beyond the 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 drone 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 alternativepage4256 and complementary method to ground-based and direct sampling of volcanic gases.

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Galle, Bo / Arellano, Santiago / Bobrowski, Nicole / et al: A multi-purpose, multi-rotor drone system for long-range and high-altitude volcanic gas plume measurements. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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