Effectiveness of low-cost air quality monitors for identifying volcanic SO₂ and PM downwind from Masaya volcano, Nicaragua

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Rachel C W Whitty
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0192-0960
Melissa A Pfeffer
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1689-1739
Evgenia Ilyinskaya
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3663-9506
Tjarda J Roberts
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0745-895X
Anja Schmidt
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8759-2843
Sara Barsotti
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5750-0872
Wilfried Strauch
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4074-9780
Leigh R Crilley
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2268-9956
Francis D Pope
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6583-8347
Harold Bellanger
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4574-8026
Elvis Mendoza
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0914-1841
Tamsin A Mather
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4259-7303
Emma J Liu
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1749-9285
Nial Peters
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6817-6262
Isabelle A Taylor
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6824-893X
Hilary Francis
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4213-2613
Xochilt Hernández Leiva
Dave Lynch
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0123-8788
Sébastien Nobert
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9282-8184
Peter Baxter
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8700-1249

Abstract

Gas and particulate matter (PM) emissions from Masaya volcano, Nicaragua, cause substantial regional volcanic air pollution (VAP). We evaluate the suitability of low-cost SO2 and PM sensors for a continuous air-quality network. The network was deployed for six months in five populated areas (4-16 km from crater). The SO2 sensors failed and recorded erroneous values on multiple occasions, likely due to corrosion, requiring significant maintenance commitment. The PM sensors were found to be robust but data required correction for humidity. SO2 measurements could not be used as stand-alone tools to detect occurrence of VAP episodes (VAPE), but SO2/PM correlation reliably achieved this at near-field stations, as confirmed by meteorological forecasts and satellite imagery. Above-background PM concentrations reliably identified VAPE at both near-field and far-field stations. We suggest that a continuous network can be built from a combination of low-cost PM and SO2 sensors with a greater number of PM-only sensors.

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How to Cite
Whitty, R., Pfeffer, M., Ilyinskaya, E., Roberts, T., Schmidt, A., Barsotti, S., Strauch, . W., Crilley, L., Pope, F., Bellanger, H., Mendoza, E., Mather, T., Liu, E., Peters, . N., Taylor, I., Francis, H., Hernández Leiva, X., Lynch, D., Nobert, S. and Baxter, P. (2022) “Effectiveness of low-cost air quality monitors for identifying volcanic SO₂ and PM downwind from Masaya volcano, Nicaragua”, Volcanica, 5(1), pp. 33–59. doi: 10.30909/vol.05.01.3359.
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Articles
Author Biographies

Rachel C W Whitty, Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

PhD student at the University of Leeds, specialising in SO2 and PM dispersal from volcanic emissions

Melissa A Pfeffer, Icelandic Meteorological Office, Reykjavik, Iceland

Atmospheric volcanologist at Icelandic Meteorological Office, specialist in ash dispersion

Evgenia Ilyinskaya, Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

University Academic Fellow at University of Leeds, specialising in volcanic gas and aerosols

Tjarda J Roberts, CNRS UMR7328, Laboratoire de Physique et de Chimie de l’Environnement et de l’Espace, Université d’Orléans, Orléans, France

CNRS researcher, based at the Laboratory of Physics and Chemistry of the Environment and Space, France

Anja Schmidt, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom AND Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Interdisciplinary Lecturer in Climate Modelling

Sara Barsotti, Icelandic Meteorological Office, Reykjavik, Iceland

Volcanic hazards coordinator at Icelandic Meteorological Office

Wilfried Strauch, Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Managua, Nicaragua

Executive Directorate of INETER, researching Seismology, Tsunamis, Landslides, Volcanology, Geoinformatics (GIS) and Disaster Mitigation

Leigh R Crilley, Department of Chemistry, York University, Toronto, Canada

Postdoctoral Researcher at York University, Toronto, with expertise in air pollution

Francis D Pope, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Professor of Atmospheric Science at University of Birmingham

Harold Bellanger, Department of Geography, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Researcher at University of Montreal

Elvis Mendoza, Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Managua, Nicaragua

Volcanologist at INETER

Tamsin A Mather, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Professor of Earth Sciences at University of Oxford, specialising in volcanoes and volcanic behaviour

Emma J Liu, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, London, United Kingdom

Lecturer in Earth Sciences at University College London, specialising in volcanic emissions and aerial (drone) monitoring strategies

Nial Peters, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London, London, United Kingdom

Volcanologist

Isabelle A Taylor, COMET, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Hilary Francis, Department of Humanities, University of Northumbria, Newcastle, United Kingdom

Senior Lecturer at University of Northumbria, historian of Nicaragua and US-Nicaraguan relations

Xochilt Hernández Leiva, Independent social research consultant, Managua, Nicaragua; formerly at Universidad Americana, Managua, Nicaragua, and Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Independent social research consultant, Nicaragua

Dave Lynch, Cultural Institute, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Artist, director and inventor

Sébastien Nobert, Department of Geography, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada AND Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Assistant professor

Peter Baxter, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Specialist in health aspects of volcanic eruptions

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