SO2 cloud detected in the area of Kunlun volcano, Tibet - could it be from a volcanic eruption?

Wed, 10 Mar 2021, 20:22
20:22 PM | BY: T
Detected SO2 cloud in the area of Kunlun volcano, NW Tibet (image: SACS)
Detected SO2 cloud in the area of Kunlun volcano, NW Tibet (image: SACS)
SO2 and aerosol maps with data from the recent alert (source: SACS)
SO2 and aerosol maps with data from the recent alert (source: SACS)
Update: It appears that the SO2 plume is from one of the recent paroxysms at Etna volcano. There is no sign of unusual activity at Kunlun volcano.

A strong sulfur dioxide cloud was seen hovering above northwestern Tibet on satellite imagery from 9 March, the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy alerted through its Support to Aviation Control Service (SACS).
The closest potentially active volcano is the Kunlun volcanic group, a little known cluster of volcanic vents which last erupted in 1951. The (automated) alert mentions that a possible (if not the most likely) source of the SO2 cloud is an eruption of the Kunlun Volcanic Group. However, there seem to be no other data confirming such an unusual event and would certainly be a big surprise if true.
Recent satellite imagery of the area show no signs of a volcanic eruption from Kunlun volcano. Therefore, we do not think that there is an eruption in the area to cause this SO2 plume, which remains enigmatic for now. If anyone with access to other data is able to shed more light onto this, we will be happy to hear and follow up!
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