22 Feb 2023
 | 22 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

A regional modelling study of halogen chemistry within a volcanic plume of Mt Etna’s Christmas 2018 eruption

Herizo Narivelo, Paul David Hamer, Virginie Marécal, Luke Surl, Tjarda Roberts, Sophie Pelletier, Béatrice Josse, Jonathan Guth, Mickaël Bacles, Simon Warnach, Thomas Wagner, Stefano Corradini, Giuseppe Salerno, and Lorenzo Guerrieri

Abstract. Volcanoes are known to be important emitters of atmospheric gases and aerosols, which for certain volcanoes can include halogen gases and in particular HBr. HBr emitted in this way can undergo rapid atmospheric oxidation chemistry (known as the bromine-explosion) within the volcanic emission plume leading to the production of bromine oxide (BrO) and ozone depletion. In this work, we present the results of a modelling study of a volcanic eruption from Mt Etna that occurred around Christmas 2018 that lasted 6 days. The aims of this study are to demonstrate and evaluate the ability of the regional 3D Chemistry Transport Model MOCAGE to simulate the volcanic halogen chemistry in this case study, to analyse the variability of the chemical processes during the plume transport, and to quantify its impact on the composition of the troposphere at a regional scale over the Mediterranean basin.

The comparison of the tropospheric SO2 and BrO columns from 25 to 30 December 2018 from the MOCAGE simulation with the columns derived from the TROPOMI satellite measurements shows a very good agreement for the transport of the plumeand a good consistency for the concentrations if considering the uncertainties in the flux estimates and the TROPOMI columns. The analysis of the bromine species’ partitioning and of the associated chemical reaction rates provides a detailed picture of the simulated bromine chemistry throughout the diurnal cycle and at different stages of the volcanic plume’s evolution. The partitioning of the bromine species is modulated by the time evolution of the emissions during the 6 days of the eruption, by the meteorological conditions, and by the distance of the plume from the vent/the time since the emission. As the plume travels further from the vent, the halogen source gas HBr becomes depleted, BrO production in the plume becomes less efficient, and ozone depletion (proceeding via the Br + O3 reaction followed by the BrO self-reaction) decreases. The depletion of HBr relative to the other prevalent hydracid HCl leads to a shift in the relative concentrations of the Br and Cl ions, which in turn leads to reduced production of Br2 relative to BrCl.

The MOCAGE simulations show a regional impact of the volcanic eruption on the oxidants OH and O3 with a reduced burden of both gases that is caused by the chemistry in the volcanic plume. This reduction in atmospheric oxidation capacity results in a reduced CH4 burden. Finally, sensitivity tests on the composition of the emissions carried out in this work show that the production of BrO is higher when the volcanic emissions of sulfate aerosols are increased but occurs very slowly when no sulfate and Br radicals are assumed to be in the emissions. Both sensitivity tests highlight a significant impact on the oxidants in the troposphere at the regional scale of these assumptions.

All the results of this modelling study are consistent with the previous studies carried out on the volcanic halogens modelling.

Herizo Narivelo et al.

Status: open (until 08 Apr 2023)

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Herizo Narivelo et al.

Herizo Narivelo et al.


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Short summary
Volcanic emissions provide large amounts of gases and particles that can have important effects on the atmosphere. This is why the paper presents a study of the fate of the volcanic emissions from the Mt Etna’s eruption from 24 to 30 December 2018. Using a numerical model and satellite observations, we analyse the impact of the volcanic plume as it travels and how it modifies the air composition over the whole Mediterranean basin.