Magma extrusion dynamics revealed by high-frequency gas monitoring at Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat
S. R. Young, B. Voight, H. J. Duffell, 2003. "Magma extrusion dynamics revealed by high-frequency gas monitoring at Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat", Volcanic Degassing, C. Oppenheimer, D. M. Pyle, J. Barclay
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Andesitic to dacitic dome-building volcanoes often present a problem for eruption forecasting because signs of impending activity can be minimal or ambiguous. Gas monitoring is one of a number of techniques used to assist in eruption forecasting. However, a variety of explanations have been offered for the large variations in gas release that are commonly reported from erupting volcanoes. Difficulties in interpretation can arise because gas-flux measurements are generally acquired at lower sampling rates than other geophysical observations. Here, we report SO2 flux measurements, by correlation spectroscopy, recorded semi-continuously during December 1999 to January 2000 at the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat. We compare these data to continuously recorded seismic records, and interpret the results in terms of conduit dynamics. We demonstrate two- to six-fold variations in gas flux over a few hours, and show that these variations can be systematic and directly correlated with long-period swarm seismicity. For the period of study, we find that the gas-flux peak lags several tens of minutes behind the peak in seismic energy release. These features are consistent with models of oscillating magma flow, where magma viscosity is dependent on melt volatile content. We propose that seismicity reflects conduit pressurization, and find that gas flux directly reflects magma flow rate. Although other volcanoes might behave differently, our results suggest that it can be possible to use continuous gas measurements to monitor conduit behaviour, perhaps providing short-term warnings of impending eruptions.
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Humans have long marvelled at (and feared) the odorous and colourful manifestations of volcanic emissions, and, in some cases, have harnessed them for their economic value. The degassing process responsible for these phenomena is now understood to be one of the key factors influencing the timing and nature of volcanic eruptions. Moreover the surface emissions of these volatiles can have profound effects on the atmospheric and terrestrial environment, and climate. Even more fundamental are the relationships between the history of planetary outgassing, differentiation of the Earth’s interior, chemistry of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the origin and evolution of life. This book provides a compilation of 23 papers that investigate the behaviour of volatiles in magma, the feedbacks between degassing and magma dynamics, and the composition, flux, and environmental, atmospheric and climatic impacts of volcanic gas emissions.