EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ground-based volcanic ash detection with low-cost sensors – a case study at the 2021 Cumbre Vieja eruption

Jose Pacheco1, Diogo Henriques2, Sérgio Oliveira1, Alexandra Moutinho2, Fátima Viveiros1, Diamantino Henriques3, Pedro Hernández4,5, and Nemesio Pèrez4,5
Jose Pacheco et al.
  • 1Azores University, IVAR - Instituto de Investigação em Vulcanologia e Avalição de Riscos, Ponta Delgada, Portugal (
  • 2IDMEC, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 3IPMA – Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera, Azores, Portugal
  • 4INVOLCAN - Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias, 38320 San Cristóbal de La Laguna,
  • 5ITER - Instituto Tecnológico y de Energías Renovables, 38600 Granadilla de Abona, Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Tajogaite eruption of Cumbre Vieja volcano, in 2021, was a basaltic fissure eruption characterised by a variety of eruptive styles ranging from the predominantly strombolian activity, to lava fountaining, ash emission and effusive activity. The eruption lasted nearly 3 months, produced an extensive lava field and about 45.106 m3 of tephra. Although its intensity varied throughout the entire duration of the eruption, the eruptive plume had a typical height of about 3500 m asl and reached a maximum of 8500 m asl just hours before the end of the eruption, on the 13th of December. Ash is, therefore, a significant hazard to consider not only during the eruption, but also on the post-eruption phase.

To measure ash in the air around the volcano, during the last stage of the eruption and the following weeks, an experiment was devised based on a proximal network of several ground-based low-cost sensors, measuring suspended particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5) concentration, air temperature, and relative humidity.

The results showed that, during the documented period, the daily mass concentration of particulate matter in the air reproduced the peak on the eruptive column high at the end of the eruption. After the eruption several significant resuspension events were detected simultaneously in several stations; in addition, after the eruption, a major event of “calima” dust intrusion largely exceeded all recorded eruptive events. Overall, even after the eruption, the 24-hour average exposure to PM2.5 surpassed the guidelines of the World Health Organization.



This work was partially funded by FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, under project SONDA - Synchronous Oceanic and Atmospheric Data Acquisition (PTDC/EME-SIS/1960/2020) and INTERREG MAC under the project VOLRISKMAC-II - Fortalecimiento de las capacidades de I+D+i para el desarrollo de la resiliencia frente a emergencias volcánicas en la Macaronesia.

How to cite: Pacheco, J., Henriques, D., Oliveira, S., Moutinho, A., Viveiros, F., Henriques, D., Hernández, P., and Pèrez, N.: Ground-based volcanic ash detection with low-cost sensors – a case study at the 2021 Cumbre Vieja eruption, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9128,, 2023.