June 2019 – The Trail by Fire Expedition: Measuring volcanic emissions in South America


20 Volcanoes. 6 Scientists. 1 Mission. This is the Trail by Fire.

In 2016 a team of young volcanologists has been conducting expeditions to the South American Andes. The major objective was to provide the first accurate estimate of the flux of volatile species (H2O, CO2, SO2, H2, CO, HCl, HF, H2S and OCS) emitted by volcanoes along the entire length of the Nazca plate subduction zone (~6000 km), from the southern tip of Chile all the way to the equator. In a specially equipped four-wheel drive vehicle, the journey has been taking the team across half a continent, from the giant volcanoes of Ecuador through the altiplanoes of Peru and to the Southern tip of Chile, traveling on some of the Earth’s highest roads, and climbing some of the Earth’s tallest volcanoes.

To measure the isotopic composition of the volcanic CO2, the team used a Delta Ray Infrared Isotope Ratio Spectrometer, located inside the four-wheel drive. The Delta Ray is the newest, most cutting-edge tool in volcano monitoring, and has only thus-far been employed at a few volcanoes.

Would like to read the whole case study? Please go to the Knowledge Base and download CS30585.

More info on the expedition can be found on www.trailbyfire.org.