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Introduction
Volcanic Gases: Average Compositions and Minor or Trace Gases
Gas Compositions and Tectonic Setting
Gases: Man versus the Volcanoes
Volcanic Gases and the Origin of the Atmosphere
Global Impacts of Volcanic Eruptions
Some Important Eruptions
Deadly Gases
Dead Dinosaurs and Gas
Measuring Volcanic Gases
Quiz on Volcanic Gases
References on Volcanic Gases
Other Sources of Volcanic Gas Information

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Gas Compositions and Tectonic Setting

Symonds, Rose, Bluth, and Gerlach (1994) published a list of compositions of high-temperature volcanic-gas samples. They also have a comprehensive list of published sources for high-quality volcanic-gas data .

  • Convergent-plate volcanoes: Etna, Mount St. Helens, Merapi
  • Divergent-plate volcanoes: Erta Ale, Surtsey
  • Hot-spot volcano: Kilauea

Equilibrium compositions, temperatures, and log fO2 values of high-temperature and low-pressure (1 bar) volcanic gases. Concentrations are in mole %; log fO2 given in log bars.

  Etna hawaiite Mt. St. Helens dacite Merapi andesite Erta Ale basalt Surtsey basalt Kilauea summit basalt Kilauea rift zone basalt

T (°C)

1075

802

915

1032

1125

1170

1010

logfO2

-9.47

-14.25

-12.49

-10.12

-9.80

-8.38

-10.49

H2O

27.71

91.58

88.87

69.41

81.13

37.09

79.8

H2

0.30

0.85

1.54

1.57

2.80

0.49

0.90

CO2

22.76

6.64

7.07

17.16

9.29

48.90

3.15

CO

0.48

0.06

0.16

0.75

0.69

1.51

0.06

SO2

47.70

0.2089

1.15

9.46

4.12

11.84

14.9

H2S

0.22

0.3553

1.12

1.02

0.89

0.04

0.622

S2

0.76

0.0039

0.08

0.59

0.25

0.02

0.309

HCl

--

--

0.59

--

--

0.08

0.1

HF

--

--

0.04

--

--

--

0.19

COS

--

0.0008

--

0.02

--

--

0.0013

SO

0.06

--

--

--

--

--

--

H20, CO2, and SO2 are the most common gases in all samples.

Minor gases are H2, H2S, HCl, CO, and S2.

Based on elemental compositions, convergent-plate volcanoes tend to have higher H (reflected in H2O) and lower C and S (CO2 and SO2) relative to divergent-plate volcanoes and hot-spot volcanoes (which have high relative C and S and low H). HCl is higher at Etna and does not fit the pattern, perhaps because of its alkaline magma composition. Plate tectonics influences these abundances. The subducted slab contributes H2O and Cl to convergent-plate magmas. Magma sources for divergent-plate volcanoes and hot-spot volcanoes are located in the mantle and have moderate amounts of C and S and are relatively depleted in H2O and HCl.

Sources of Information:

Giggenbach, W.F., and LeGuern, Francois, 1976, The chemistry of magmatic gases from Erta Ale, Ethiopia: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 40, p. 25-30.

Symonds, Rose, Bluth, and Gerlach, 1994, Volcanic-gas studies: Methods, results, and applications in Carroll, M.R., and Holloway, J.R., editors, 1994, Volatiles in magmas: Mineralogical Society of America, Reviews in Mineralogy, v. 30, 517 p.