SO2 emissions from basaltic eruptions, and the excess sulfur issue

Sharma, K.; Blake, S.; Self, S. and Kreuger, A.J. (2004). SO2 emissions from basaltic eruptions, and the excess sulfur issue. Geophysical Research Letters, 31(13), article no. L13612.



Volcanic SO2 can affect the Earth's environment. Where no direct measurements of SO2 in the atmosphere are available, a petrologic method of assessing sulfur release from the magma must be used. However, in studies of arc-derived eruptions, satellite-based measurements of SO2 emissions using Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) data are orders of magnitude greater than those calculated petrologically, implying that a separate S-rich gas phase in the magma chamber may be responsible for the excess sulfur. We test whether this applies in other settings. For Icelandic and Hawaiian basalts we find that petrologic SO2 values are comparable to measurements of SO2 by TOMS. Thus, for non-arc basalts, the petrologic method gives reliable estimates of SO2 released. The implied absence of excess sulfur in non-arc basaltic magmas is a reflection of source magma conditions, notably lower fO2 and volatile contents than arc magmas, inhibiting the exsolution of a S-rich gas prior to eruption.

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