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Development of sensors for the analysis of volcanic gases

The European Automatic Geochemical Monitoring of Volcanoes (AGMV) project began in December 1996 and will receive funding for two years under the EU's Environment and Climate research programme. The main objective of this project is to improve the ability to detect the physico...

The European Automatic Geochemical Monitoring of Volcanoes (AGMV) project began in December 1996 and will receive funding for two years under the EU's Environment and Climate research programme. The main objective of this project is to improve the ability to detect the physico-chemical changes in volcanic fluids which commonly precede eruption and to equip volcanoes with reliable instruments for this purpose. The project involves the development and testing of a series of specific sensors able to operate continuously, establishing stations to monitor a variety of parameters, and creating field versions of laboratory analysers, which should all use remote data transmission. So far, the project has designed and developed several different types of sensor. These include sensors to monitor radon in the soil and infra-red spectrometers (still only a laboratory instrument) which enable a large number of gases to be measured simultaneously. In addition to these multi-parameter sensors, the project scientists are developing a series of sensors composed of several instruments arranged in parallel, designed to monitor specific parameters. These can be made operational more easily and are less expensive. However, these devices entail the delicate operation of coordinating the acquisition and transmission of data from the various sensors. These sensors will be tested in Italy from around June 1998 for at least six months continuous recording. The test sites will be Solfatara, near Naples, Vulcano, in the Eoile Islands and Etna in Sicily.