Out of the blue: Volcanic SO2 emissions during the 2021-2022 eruptions of Hunga...

Carn, S. A., N. Krotkov, B. Fisher, and C. Li (2022), Out of the blue: Volcanic SO2 emissions during the 2021-2022 eruptions of Hunga Tonga—Hunga Ha’apai (Tonga), Front. Earth Sci., 10, doi:10.3389/feart.2022.976962.

Most volcanism on Earth is submarine, but volcanic gas emissions by submarine eruptions are rarely observed and hence largely unquantified. On 15 January 2022 a submarine eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai (HTHH) volcano (Tonga) generated an explosion of historic magnitude, and was preceded by ~1 month of Surtseyan eruptive activity and two precursory explosive eruptions. We present an analysis of ultraviolet (UV) satellite measurements of volcanic sulfur dioxide (SO2) between December 2021 and the climactic 15 January 2022 eruption, comprising an unprecedented record of Surtseyan eruptive emissions. UV measurements from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASAs Aura satellite, the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) on Suomi- NPP, the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on ESAs Sentinel-5P, and the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) are combined to yield a consistent multi-sensor record of eruptive degassing. We estimate SOemissions during the eruptions key phases: the initial 19 December 2021 eruption (~0.01 Tg SO2); continuous SOemissions from 20 December 2021early January 2022 (~0.12 Tg SO2); the 13 January 2022 stratospheric eruption (0.06 Tg SO2); and the paroxysmal 15 January 2022 eruption (~0.40.5 Tg SO2); yielding a total SOemission of ~0.60.7Tg SOfor the eruptive episode. We interpret the vigorous SOemissions observed prior to the January 2022 eruptions, which were significantly higher than measured in the 2009 and 2014 HTHH eruptions, as strong evidence for a rejuvenated magmatic system. High cadence DSCOVR/ EPIC SOimagery permits the first UV-based analysis of umbrella cloud spreading and volume flux in the 13 January 2022 eruption, and also tracks early dispersion of the stratospheric SOcloud injected on January 15. The ~0.40.5Tg SOdischarged by the paroxysmal 15 January 2022 HTHH eruption is low relative to other eruptions of similar magnitude, and a review of other submarine eruptions in the satellite era indicates that modest SOyields may be characteristic of submarine volcanism, with the emissions and atmospheric impacts likely dominated by water vapor. The origin of the low SOloading awaits further investigation but scrubbing of SOin the water-rich eruption plumes and rapid conversion to sulfate aerosol are plausible, given the exceptional water emission by the 15 January 2022 HTHH eruption.

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Research Program: 
Interdisciplinary Science Program (IDS)
Atmospheric Composition
Earth Surface & Interior Program (ESI)