Volcanology and Environmental sciences

Masaya volcano is an ideal candidate region to study vumo in general, and the factors underlying the development of vumo crises (episodes when vumo reaches dangerously high levels), with a possible view to subsequent generalisation to other volcanoes

Even though Masaya volcano itself has been scientifically investigated for several decades, little is known about its effects on air quality and the environment in populated areas

Within UNRESP foundation phase, we are investigating several different aspects of  Masaya’s vumo in order to understand their physical impact on the populated areas

Impact on air quality and the environment

In February 2017 we installed 6 air quality monitoring stations  in populated areas near Masaya volcano

Air quality station at Clinica Susie Syke in Pacaya community

The stations are monitoring major airborne pollutants in near-real time (SO2, NO, NO2, O3, PM10, PM2.5 and PM1). By collecting these data, we can identify for the first time the frequency, intensity and duration of high pollution episodes – factors which impact on human morbidity and mortality

We have also collected various samples of pollutants that cannot be measured in real time, such as hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF), and heavy metals

Samples were collected indoors and outdoors to assess the level of protection which buildings provide

Example of air quality data streaming from one of the stations. Blue – SO2, black – PM2.5

Forecasting the air quality impact

We are investigating how the weather controls the dispersion of air pollutants from Masaya. The dispersion is simulated using the CALPUFF model. The model has been previously used to forecast SO2 air pollution in Iceland during the eruption of Holuhraun 2014-2015

Trial simulation of the dispersion of SO2 from Masaya volcano using CALPUFF

Environmental and volcanological work is led by 

Evgenia Ilyinskaya, University of Leeds

Sara BarsottiIcelandic Meteorological Office

Harold Rodriguez, Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial Asociativo (IDEAS)

Mark Richardson and James O’Neill,  Centre of Excellence for Modelling the Atmosphere and Climate (CEMAC)

Tamsin MatherUniversity of Oxford

Jennifer Le Blond, Natural History Museum

Clive Oppenheimer, University of Cambridge

Hazel RymerOpen University

Guillermo Caravantes, Open University


The header image shows field measurements of aerosol particles in Masaya’s plume using technique called Sun photometry