Monday, 24 August 2015

The final week - The Labs!

So this is my last post for the Canaries fieldwork.

The last week of the internship we spent in the InVolcan labs at ITER (the Institute for Technology and Renewable Energy).

This is where we learnt about the equipment used to analyse all the samples we had spent the last three weeks collecting, how to run samples for ourselves and how the data is used to generate diffuse degassing maps referred to as sequential Gaussian simulations (sGs). These maps can be used to highlight the locations of fractures and faults that are actively used as gas conduits.

At InVolcan they use micro-Gas Chromatography as this is more sensitive to CO2 and Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry as this is more sensitive to Helium. In both cases these are quantitative analyses, simply looking for the overall values of these two gases within the total gases that are rising to the surface - providing information about the total gas composition. At InVolcan they also use Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry to analyse CO2 in more detail. This fancy bit of kit determines the ratio between two different Carbon isotopes 13C/12C. With this information, it is possible to determine the source of the carbon dioxide rising to the surface - is it's main source of a biogenic nature or a magmatic nature. As InVolcan monitor and analyse in this way every year, they can also compare past results and study any notable changes.

Running samples through the micro-gas chromatography system

Island residents and visitors alike can be safe in the knowledge that Mount Teide, along with many other volcanic systems in the Canaries and other locations including Cape Verde, Iceland and Nicaragua are regularly monitored, so any changes will be identified, monitoring will be increased accordingly, and, if needs alert levels will be changed.

Of course, it is not just the monitoring of diffuse degassing that is monitored. There are many more techniques used to monitor the behaviour of a volcanic system that ultimately contribute to what happens with alert levels and the safety of the islanders. 

Buenas Noches or I really should once again say Lala Salama!

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