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Letters to Nature
Nature 351, 387 - 391 (30 May 1991); doi:10.1038/351387a0

Eruptive and diffuse emissions of CO2 from Mount Etna

P. Allard*, J. Carbonnelle, D. Dajlevic, J. Le Bronec, P. Morel, M. C. Robe, J. M. Maurenas, R. Faivre-Pierret, D.  Martin§, J. C. Sabroux* & P. Zettwoog

* Centre des Faibles Radioactivités, CNRS-CEA, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Commissariat à I'Energie Atomique, IPSN, SPIN/DPT,91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Commissariat à I'Energie Atomique, LESI, 38041 Grenoble Cedex, France
§ Centre de Recherches en Physique de I'Atmosphère, EERM,78470 Magny-les-Hameaux, France

MOUNT Etna, in Sicily, is one of the world's most actively degassing volcanoes1. Here we use data collected from 1975 to 1987 to estimate carbon dioxide emissions from the summit craters and the upper flanks of the volcano. By combining measurements of the SO2 flux in the plume (refs 1–6 and this paper) with measurements of the CO2/SO2 ratio of the plume gases, we find that the average output of CO2 from summit crater degassing is 13±3 Tg yr−1. This is an order of magnitude higher than the annual CO2 output from Kilauea7,8, Hawaii, and representative arc volcanoes9,10. Furthermore, we find that diffuse emissions of CO2 from the upper flanks of Etna are magma-derived and are of a similar magnitude to those emitted from the crater plume. This observation, as well as others11–14, verifies the idea15 that extensive diffuse release of magmatic CO2 may occur in volcanically active regions—a process that needs to be taken into account when evaluating the volatile budget of subaerial volcanism. Such degassing may be of use for monitoring volcanic activity, could provide a means for radiocarbon dating of eruptions, and may be a mechanism by which CO2 is injected into crater lakes.

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