12th Field Workshop of the Commission of the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases

The 12th Field Workshop of the Commission of the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases took place in November 2014 in northern Chile.

The 12th Field Workshop of the Commission of the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases (CCVG) took place 16-28 November 2014 in northern Chile. The meeting was supported by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI)—of which CCVG is a special interest group—and the Deep Carbon Observatory. Almost 70 volcanologists from 18 countries participated in the meeting, which began with a two-day conference in Copiapó (17-18 November) before the group headed into the field to study gas emissions from the volcanoes of Lastarria and Lascar, and the geothermal field of El Tatio. The meeting also included the election of new CCVG committee members and discussion of future CCVG activities.

The main conference featured oral and poster presentations on many topics related to volcanic gas emissions, and a high standard of scholarship was evident throughout. Particularly of note was the wide array of measurement techniques and approaches being used by the CCVG community—many of whom are also participants in the DCO program DECADE, which seeks to better constrain global volcanic carbon emissions. Strong links are growing between the traditionally discrete direct sampling and remote sensing communities within CCVG, facilitating more complete perspectives to build up estimates of the emissions from volcanoes and volcanic regions worldwide. A highlight of the meeting was an entire session dedicated to volcanic carbon emissions, with new measurements reported from Costa Rica (Maarten de Moor, OVSICORI-UNA, Costa Rica), Nicaragua (Alessandro Aiuppa, INGV, Italy), and Sicily (Andrea Rizzo, INGV, Italy); these data partly arise from DECADE-funded field campaigns. Mike Burton (INGV, Italy) presented intriguing plume composition data from the continuing eruption of Holuhraun, Iceland. Burton noted how different magma sources lead to different volatile budgets and therefore different eruptions in Iceland will not necessarily have similar environmental impacts. Ulrich Platt (University of Heidelberg, Germany) and Robin Campion (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) summarised technical advances in volcanic plume remote sensing (and challenges which remain to be overcome), while Jean Battaglia (French National Centre for Scientific Research, France) and Vladimir Conde (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden) explored the integration of volcanic degassing and seismicity. Fatima Viveiros (University of the Azores, Portugal) showed measurements of CO2 soil degassing in the Azores, reminding us that this potentially important component to volcanic volatile budgets remains poorly constrained in many locations. Emanuela Bagnato (University of Palermo, Italy) combined measurements of soil degassing of CO2 and mercury at La Solfatara, Italy.

The bulk of the field workshop took place at Lastarria volcano (21°10’08’’S-68°31’00’W; 5,697 m above sea level). Lastarria is extremely remote: basecamp lies 160 km along dirt roads from the Pan-American Highway. Fieldwork at Lastarria is highly challenging, particularly for those making direct measurements: the extreme altitude and high gas concentrations in the fumarole left many feeling light-headed after a day of gathering samples and data. The work went well, however, with several groups sampling or measuring the emissions from a pair of fumaroles for later inter-comparison, and multiple UV remote sensing instruments deployed on the volcano's flanks measuring SO2 emission rates.

After three days, the group drove north once more to a new basecamp, San Pedro de Atacama. Early the following morning, a second field campaign undertook sampling and measurements of the fumaroles and emissions from El Tatio geothermal field (22°20’00’’S, 68°01’00’’W; 4,290 m a.s.l.). This day concluded the main segment of the workshop, and ended with a group discussion of the future research directions of CCVG, including its important role within DCO-DECADE and the relationship between CCVG and its parent organisation IAVCEI. The group elected new members to the CCVG board: Franco Tassi (University of Florence, Italy) as the President, Nicole Bobrowski (Institute for Environmental Physics, Germany) as Vice President, Maarten de Moor (OVSICORI-UNA, Costa Rica) as Editor/Webmaster, and Taryn Lopez (University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA) as Secretary. The group also commended the outgoing committee of Giovanni Chiodini (INGV, Italy), Patrick Allard (IPGP, France), Felipe Aguilera (Universidad de Atacama, Chile), and Nicole Bobrowski (Institute for Environmental Physics, Germany) and thanked them for their work over the previous years.

While many participants headed for home, the workshop continued for a smaller group with a two-day expedition to Lascar volcano, located in the long chain of peaks extending north-south either side of San Pedro. The majority of measurements at Lascar were remote sensing, since the active fumaroles lie within a deep steep-sided crater and access is both difficult and dangerous. Nonetheless, the group attempted direct measurements by walking traverse along the spectacular crater rim. In common with the workshop as a whole, the Lascar segment was characterised by high spirits in the field, stimulating discussions among participants, and generosity on the part of the volcanological veterans in sharing their knowledge with the many younger scientists participating.

A welcome feature of this workshop was the large number of early career volcanologists able to attend, in no small part to the generous travel grants awarded by the DCO to several such young scientists. María Clara Lamberti (PhD Student at Universidad de Buenos Aires) wrote, “My experience in the 12th Gas Workshop was exceptional. I presented a preliminary version of my PhD work, and I received such positive feedback, new ideas on how to continue and a lot of motivation.” Philippe Robidoux (PhD student at INGV/Università di Palermo) said, “The 12th Gas Workshop in Northern Chile was important for me to attend because I wanted to explore multidisciplinary approaches for studying volcanic degassing. As a geologist and student member of DCO, especially, I was captivated by the different methods for studying CO2 which is considered as an excellent tracer of changes from the geochemistry of magmatic systems.” Kalina Malowany (M.Sc. Student, McGill University, Montreal) wrote, “The workshop provided an invaluable opportunity for the international community to come together and share research and techniques. The conference featured some of the new applications of gas geochemistry and remote sensing at volcanoes that were thought provoking and a good indication of the future of gas research.” Vladimir Conde (PhD student, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg) noted. “The workshop provides a great platform where future collaboration was discussed.” Matías Osorio Mirambell (Universidad de la República, Montevideo) wrote, “My job in the Applied Optics Group in Montevideo is the remote sensing of gas emissions using the DOAS technique. This was a perfect opportunity to understand the different kinds of problems and processes involved in making these measurements as a volcanologist.” All participants also spoke warmly of the friendships and camaraderie developed between the early career scientists as a consequence of their time spent together in the field. These connections are sure to serve us well in the years to come as we move through our careers.

Finally, the CCVG community would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the organizers of the 12th workshop, in particular Felipe Aguilera (Universidad de Atacama), Ángelo Castruccio (Universidad de Chile), Francisco Gutierrez (Universidad de Chile), Diego Morata (Universidad de Chile), Cristian Tambley (Campoalto Operaciones) and other volunteers from the Universidad de Chile and the Universidad de Atacama.  This workshop was logistically challenging and could not have been accomplished without their hard work.

Report and images contributed by Brendan McCormick (Smithsonian Institution, USA)


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