Periodicity in the BrO/SO2 molar ratios in the volcanic gas plume of Cotopaxi and its correlation with the Earth tides during the eruption in 2015
Journal article, 2018

We evaluated NOVAC (Network for Observation of Volcanic and Atmospheric Change) gas emission data from the 2015 eruption of the Cotopaxi volcano (Ecuador) for BrO/SO2 molar ratios. The BrO=SO2 molar ratios were very small prior to the phreatomagmatic explosions in August 2015, significantly higher after the explosions, and continuously increasing until the end of the unrest period in December 2015. These observations together with similar findings in previous studies at other volcanoes (Mt. Etna, Nevado del Ruiz, Tungurahua) suggest a possible link  between a drop in BrO/SO2 and a future explosion. In addition, the observed relatively high BrO/SO2 molar ratios after December 2015 imply that bromine degassed predominately after  sulfur from the magmatic melt. Furthermore, statistical analysis of the data revealed a conspicuous periodic pattern with a periodicity of about 2 weeks in a 3-month time series. While the
time series is too short to rule out a chance recurrence of transient geological or meteorological events as a possible origin for the periodic signal, we nevertheless took this observation
as a motivation to examine the influence of natural forcings with periodicities of around 2 weeks on volcanic gas emissions. One strong aspirant with such a periodicity are the
Earth tides, which are thus central in this study. We present the BrO=SO2 data, analyse the reliability of the periodic signal, discuss a possible meteorological or eruption-induced origin of this signal, and compare the signal with the theoretical ground surface displacement pattern caused by the Earth tides. Our central result is the observation of a significant correlation between the BrO=SO2 molar ratios with the north–south and vertical components of the calculated tideinduced surface displacement with correlation coefficients of 47 and 36 %, respectively. From all other investigated parameters, only the correlation between the BrO=SO2 molar ratios and the relative humidity in the local atmosphere resulted in a comparable correlation coefficient of about 33 %.


Florian Dinger

Heidelberg University

Nicole Bobrowski

Heidelberg University

Simon Warnach

Heidelberg University

Stefan Bredemeyer


Silvana Hidalgo

Santiago Arellano

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Bo Galle

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Ulrich Platt

Heidelberg University

Thomas Wagner

Max Planck Society

Solid Earth

1869-9510 (ISSN) 1869-9529 (eISSN)

Vol. 9 2 247-266


Basic sciences

Subject Categories

Earth and Related Environmental Sciences




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