Ground-Based Measurements of the 2014–2015 Holuhraun Volcanic Cloud (Iceland)

Melissa A. Pfeffer*, Baldur Bergsson, Sara Barsotti, Gerður Stefánsdóttir, Bo Galle, Santiago Arellano, Vladimir Conde, Amy Donovan, Evgenia Ilyinskaya, Mike Burton, Alessandro Aiuppa, Rachel C.W. Whitty, Isla C. Simmons, Þórður Arason, Elín B. Jónasdóttir, Nicole S. Keller, Richard F. Yeo, Hermann Arngrímsson, Þorsteinn Jóhannsson, Mary K. ButwinRobert A. Askew, Stéphanie Dumont, Sibylle Von Löwis, Þorgils Ingvarsson, Alessandro La Spina, Helen Thomas, Fred Prata, Fausto Grassa, Gaetano Giudice, Andri Stefánsson, Frank Marzano, Mario Montopoli, Luigi Mereu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The 2014–2015 Bárðarbunga fissure eruption at Holuhraun in central Iceland was distinguished by the high emission of gases, in total 9.6 Mt SO2, with almost no tephra. This work collates all ground-based measurements of this extraordinary eruption cloud made under particularly challenging conditions: remote location, optically dense cloud with high SO2 column amounts, low UV intensity, frequent clouds and precipitation, an extensive and hot lava field, developing ramparts, and high-latitude winter conditions. Semi-continuous measurements of SO2 flux with three scanning DOAS instruments were augmented by car traverses along the ring-road and along the lava. The ratios of other gases/SO2 were measured by OP-FTIR, MultiGAS, and filter packs. Ratios of SO2/HCl = 30–110 and SO2/HF = 30–130 show a halogen-poor eruption cloud. Scientists on-site reported extremely minor tephra production during the eruption. OPC and filter packs showed low particle concentrations similar to non-eruption cloud conditions. Three weather radars detected a droplet-rich eruption cloud. Top of eruption cloud heights of 0.3–5.5 km agl were measured with ground- and aircraft-based visual observations, web camera and NicAIR II infrared images, triangulation of scanning DOAS instruments, and the location of SO2 peaks measured by DOAS traverses. Cloud height and emission rate measurements were critical for initializing gas dispersal simulations for hazard forecasting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Special Issue - Volcanic Plumes: Impacts on the Atmosphere and Insights into Volcanic Processes)


  • Bárðarbunga
  • Cloud height
  • Eruption monitoring
  • Fissure eruption
  • Gas
  • Holuhraun
  • SO


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