ENS@Etna is a scientific expedition in Sicily entirely organized by students from Geosciences and Antique Sciences departments of the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris, in collaboration with international high-level scientists. The main goal of the expedition is to install the first high-elevation meteorological station on Etna with a SO2 sensor. It will improve the predictions of the volcanic ash dispersion which is essential during an eruption. The data will be available in open access. Furthermore, the second goal of the mission is to train the students in the practice of geophysics and archeology, and to study a thematic at the frontier of these two domains: seismic traces in archaeological remains.
The scientific interests of such a mission are numerous. Today, the model of volcanic ash dispersion of the INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology), which produces a hazard-map during eruption, is only based on an atmospheric circulation meso-scale model with no high-elevation observations considered. The data gathered by the station will improve the improve the precision of the predictions by correcting the errors due to local phenomena not considered in the model. Furthermore, it will also document the fast-daily variations of the weather on Etna linked to the mountain’s characteristics of the site, like the rise of clouds. The data will also be useful for all scientists who want to study volcanic gas plumes dispersion.
SO2 is one of the main magmatic gas. Thanks to its low atmospheric background noise, it is an excellent volcanic plumes tracker which is easily measured by remote sensing or in situ measurements. Usually, the SO2 flux rises during an eruption and sometimes even before, which is an important alert for volcanologists. On the volcano Etna, this SO2 flux is already measured daily at the crater by remote sensing. Our SO2 sensor will be installed at a slightly lower altitude, around 2900m. It will allow to estimate the SO2 dispersion in near-field together with the frequency at which the plume is passing by the station and the levels of SO2 concentration achieved. This valuable information will examine the feasibility of volcanic gas measurements in a much simpler environment than a crater, as well as estimate the health impact on local workers and tourists.
The station will be installed at Torre del Filosofo, at 2900m altitude, on the guide cabin. It will gather during all the year data of pressure, temperature, anemometry, relative humidity and SO2 concentration of the air. The date will be transmitted by GSM and will be available in open access on a server. In case of a lava flow reaching the cabin, the station will be dismantled by the guides and then reinstalled.