EGU24-18896, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The 2021 paroxysmal events at Mt. Etna: Modelling of SO2 and volcanic ash dispersion by using WRF-Chem model

Agostino Semprebello1,2, Giuseppe Salerno3, Alessandro Gattuso1, Pasquale Sellitto4, Maria Teresa Caccamo2, Manfredi Longo5, and Salvatore Magazù2
Agostino Semprebello et al.
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Palermo - Sede Operativa di Milazzo, Via dei Mille, Milazzo, Italy (
  • 2Dipartimento di Scienze Matematiche e Informatiche, Scienze Fisiche e Scienze della Terra (MIFT), Università degli Studi di Messina, Viale Ferdinando Stagno d'Alcontres, Messina, Italy
  • 3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio Etneo, Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma, Catania, Italy
  • 4Univ. Paris Est Créteil and Université de Paris Cité, CNRS, Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA-IPSL), Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Créteil, France
  • 5Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Palermo, Via Ugo La Malfa, Palermo, Italy

From 18 January to 23 October 2021, 58 paroxysmal events occurred at Mt. Etna volcano by the South East Crater (SEC). Three events, that occurred on 4, 12 March and 24 June, were selected to be studied through a plume dispersion modelling approach. All the selected paroxysms generated ash-SO2 rich plumes ranging from 6 to 8.5 km above the main vent.
In this work, we explored the spatial dispersion of the volcanic SO2 plume in each paroxysmal event by using the Weather Research and Forecasting Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model coupled with the time-variable ground-based SO2 flux emission data recorded by FLAME (FLux Automatic MEausurement) scanning spectrometers network managed by INGV-OE (Osservatorio Etneo). In this context, WRF-Chem was specially configured to run with variable Eruption Source Parameters (ESPs), reading at each integration time-step experimentally measured SO2 flux values.
The SO2 maps resulting from the WRF-Chem simulations were compared with the dispersion pattern detected by TROPOMI sensor onboard Sentinel-5p satellite, in order to validate the capability of the model in reproducing the volcanic plume dispersion. The comparison for each simulation highlights a very good agreement between simulated data and those observed by the satellite.
The ash transport was also modelled in each simulation, considering an ash Mass Eruption Rate (MER) which was inverted from the plume height. The spatial evolution of the ash patterns was compared with data retrieved from the MGS-SEVIRI satellite. The comparison shows a good agreement between simulated and observed maps. Particularly for the 12 March event, the ash comparison clearly shows that the WRF-Chem model was able to well reproduce the eastward path of the ash cloud, even at long distances, as the simulated plume reached Greece about 10 hours after the paroxysm, in agreement with satellite observations.
In conclusion, the obtained results testify that the WRF-Chem model can efficiently reproduce the dispersion of both SO2 and ash plume emitted from Mt. Etna volcano over the Mediterranean basin, representing a powerful tool for assessing air quality, flying security and other hazard factors due to volcanic plume transport and deposition from local to Mediterranean scale. In addition, the performed simulations highlighted that the ground-based data measured by the FLAME network play a key role in improving the accuracy in simulating the SO2 dispersion pattern as it allows us to take into account the fluctuating and not stationary nature of volcanic plume emissions.

How to cite: Semprebello, A., Salerno, G., Gattuso, A., Sellitto, P., Caccamo, M. T., Longo, M., and Magazù, S.: The 2021 paroxysmal events at Mt. Etna: Modelling of SO2 and volcanic ash dispersion by using WRF-Chem model, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18896,, 2024.

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