Fumarole monitoring with a handheld infrared camera: Volcán de Colima, Mexico, 2006-2007

J.A. Stevenson, N. Varley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper describes a methodology for the monitoring of fumarole temperatures at medium ranges (~ 6 km) using a handheld infrared camera (wavelength range: 8-13.5 μm). As a relationship between fumarole temperatures, gas flux and volcanic activity has been demonstrated by a number of studies, fumarole temperature data has a potential use as a monitoring tool. Volcán de Colima is an andesitic stratovolcano with a 300 m diameter summit crater formed by the destruction of the 2004 lava dome by a series of explosions in 2005. Between January 2006 and August 2007, sequences of thermal images were recorded from a viewpoint 6 km to the north during regular 24-48 hour monitoring excursions. The temperatures of fumaroles on the crater rim and the ground surface on the volcano's flanks were measured. A methodology was developed to remove data affected by clouds or volcanic water vapour based on rates of temperature change and scatter within the data. For the remaining data, it is demonstrated mathematically that at this range, typical variations in atmospheric transmissivity will affect the apparent temperatures by +/- 2 °C, while a 25% change in fumarole heat flux would change it by 5-10 °C. The mean night-time apparent temperature of the fumaroles was calculated for each excursion and showed an irregular decline over the 19 month period. Subtracting the radiant heat flux of flank rocks from those of the fumaroles removes seasonal variations and gives the clearest view of trends in the fumarole heat flux. A sharp drop in fumarole temperature during February 2007 coincided with the emergence of a lava dome in the crater. The declining fumarole temperature is interpreted to reflect decreasing gas flux from the crater in line with a change in eruptive regime from frequent, small, ash-rich explosions to slow effusion of lava.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-924
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2008


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