We take on the challenge for La Palma and our IGME colleagues at the volcano

For the first time, laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) will face the wrath of an active volcano. In early November we will travel to La Palma and try to measure the lava composition in collaboration with our colleagues from the Instituto Geológico Minero de España (IGME, CSIC) in a joint effort to minimize the risks associated with direct sampling of lava.
This is a multiple challenge due to the harsh ground conditions with extreme temperatures (~1050 ºC), harmful gases, ash and lava flows that continuously change the terrain. Consequently, Chemocopter has to be modified in order to have some chance there. At the time of writing this post, the heart of the current instrument is being fully redesigned and reassembled with stock components to increase its range of operation to 75 m from the sample. Still, the analytical problem is far more complicated as it involves determining minor constituents at the 10 to 100 ppm levels within a complex matrix at various temperatures.