Air quality monitoring at the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica

The data collected helped to obtain a better overall understanding of the activity coming from the volcano during the analysed period.


In 2022 the Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory and Atmospheric Analytical Services collaborated with several innovative fieldwork research projects which allowed students to gain experience with new innovative products and establish connections with international companies. Kunak was one of the companies collaborating with this network of professional researchers.

The Turrialba Volcano summit reaches up to 3,340 meters (10,958 feet) in altitude and, due to its geophysical features, it is a challenge to use certain instrumentation (drones, instruments dependent on cellular communication, etc.). The Turrialba volcano is the closest volcano to the Caribbean inside the territories of Costa Rica and makes up part of the Central Volcanic Range of Costa Rica.

Since the eruptive period from 1998-2008, researchers with Universidad Nacional have consistently tracked fumarole activity, temperature, degassing, and earthquakes around the Turrialba volcanic region. New data collection stations and innovative approaches to the collection of air quality data around degassing volcanoes are now assisting with these observations of these volcanic national parks.

The air quality data collected with the Kunak AIR Pro station at the summit of the volcano was broadcast live to show the air quality data to the university for social science and enhanced safety of the community nearby. The data collected helped them gain an overall better understanding of the activity seen coming from the summit of the Turrialba volcano during this period. Investigators with the Atmospheric Chemistry laboratory of Universidad Nacional have been bringing gas detection equipment to this area since April 2022 and in May of 2023, increased degassing data was recovered from the fieldwork.

During the day the gas ratios were stable. The degassing of the Turrialba volcano was constant, with a plume of SO2, H2S and CO2. The air dispersion modelling showed a mass of air going to the southwest, around Finca Central and the Irazú volcano.


Since there was a period with frequent atmospheric fluctuation in pressure and wind dynamics, the strategic positioning of various devices around the active degassing volcano crater was essential. The Kunak AIR Pro sensor was used as a monitoring station because it was able to easily connect to the local network and send real-time air quality data and air pollution concentrations back to the university in Heredia. The Kunak station, calibrated before the deployment, gave data 24/7 because it was consistently powered by a solar panel enabling the data collection process.

The public-private collaboration offered the unique opportunity to contribute to the development of international partnerships, essential for the collection of actionable data used for public safety and hazard mitigation associated with the air quality analysis of active volcanic craters that many people wish to visit. The device allowed the collection of volcanic emissions data and showcased it to various interested parties in Costa Rica, Spain, and the United States.

The Kunak AIR Pro station was deployed in other volcanic national parks throughout Costa Rica. The air quality data was used for public safety and hazard mitigation for the people visiting these beautiful natural areas. The three active volcanoes that were monitored with the Kunak AIR Pro were:


The collected data at the summit of the volcano was streamed live to show the air quality data to the university for social science purposes and to improve the safety of the nearby community.

The establishment of the public-private partnership created an opportunity for students of Universidad Nacional to collaborate directly with Kunak and many other international companies assisting with this research and fieldwork. When companies like Kunak take particular care in helping students in different countries, real work tangible positive impacts can be achieved.

“Collectively we would like to extend a very special thanks to Javier Fernández Huerta, CEO of Kunak, for his advice and support in the project, Edurne Ibarrola Ulzurrun, PhD for her consistent support with the calibration and network monitoring when the device was deployed in the field and José Pablo Sibaja Brenes for the interpretation of atmospheric pollution data and for communicating the science of this research project to the students of the Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory of Universidad Nacional (LAQAT-UNA). We also would like to sincerely thank Dr. Geoffroy Avard of the Volcanic and Seismic Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI-UNA) for his support with safety in the field, project oversight, logistics and transportation.”

Ian Godfrey, Business Owner of Atmospheric Analytical Services LLC