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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Feb 1;407(4):1362-72. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.10.009. Epub 2008 Nov 8.

Meteorological factors controlling soil gases and indoor CO2 concentration: a permanent risk in degassing areas.

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Centro de Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos Geológicos, University of the Azores, Rua Mãe de Deus, 9500-801 Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.


Furnas volcano is one of the three quiescent central volcanoes of São Miguel Island (Azores Archipelago, Portugal). Its present activity is marked by several degassing manifestations, including fumarolic fields, thermal and cold CO2 springs and soil diffuse degassing areas. One of the most important soil diffuse degassing areas extends below Furnas village, located inside the volcano caldera. A continuous gas geochemistry programme was started at Furnas volcano in October 2001 with the installation of a permanent soil CO2 efflux station that has coupled meteorological sensors to measure barometric pressure, rain, air and soil temperature, air humidity, soil water content and wind speed and direction. Spike-like oscillations are observed on the soil CO2 efflux time series and are correlated with low barometric pressure and heavy rainfall periods. Stepwise multiple regression analysis, applied to the time series obtained, verified that the meteorological variables explain 43.3% of the gas efflux variations. To assess the impact of these influences in inhabited zones a monitoring test was conducted in a Furnas village dwelling placed where soil CO2 concentration is higher than 25 vol.%. Indoor CO2 air concentration measurements at the floor level reached values as higher as 20.8 vol.% during stormy weather periods. A similar test was performed in another degassing area, Mosteiros village, located on the flank of Sete Cidades volcano (S. Miguel Island), showing the same kind of relation between indoor CO2 concentrations and barometric pressure. This work shows that meteorological conditions alone increase the gas exposure risk for populations living in degassing areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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