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Anhydrite-bearing pumices from Mount Pinatubo: further evidence for the existence of sulphur-rich silicic magmas


THE eruption of EI Chichón in 1982 showed that relatively small but sulphur-rich eruptions from calc-alkaline volcanoes can produce long-lived stratospheric clouds of sulphate aerosols1,2, which affect the global climate3,4. Here we report the presence of primary anhydrite (CaSO4) phenocrysts in dacitic pumice clasts from the 14–15 June eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which clearly shows that the Mount Pinatubo magma is also rich in sulphur. The post-eruptive sulphur content of the Pinatubo pumices ranges from 0.37 to 0.48 wt% SO3. The considerable amount of sulphate aerosol injected into the stratosphere by the Mount Pinatubo eruptions5 should lead to a measurable cooling of the Earth's surface over the next few years, and could also trigger heterogeneous chemical reactions leading to stratospheric ozone depletion6. This new eruption of a sulphur-rich silicic magma thus shows that the EI Chichón eruption is not unique, and that climate-modifying eruptions of this type may be more common than previously believed.

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Bernard, A., Demaiffe, D., Mattielli, N. et al. Anhydrite-bearing pumices from Mount Pinatubo: further evidence for the existence of sulphur-rich silicic magmas. Nature 354, 139–140 (1991).

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