Tectonically active regions are often characterized by a large amounts of carbon dioxide degassing, and estimation of the total CO2 discharged to the atmosphere from tectonic structures, hydrothermal systems and inactive volcanic areas is crucial for the definition of present-day global Earth degassing. The carbon balance of regional aquifers is a powerful tool to quantify the diffuse degassing of deep inorganic carbon sources because the method integrates the CO2 flux over large areas. Its application to peninsular Italy shows that the region is characterized by specific CO2 fluxes higher than the baseline determined for the geothermal regions of the world, and that the amount of endogenous CO2 discharged through diffuse regional degassing (∼2.1×1011 mol yr−1) is the major component of the geological CO2 budget of Italy, definitely prevailing over the CO2 discharged by Italian active volcanoes and volcanoes in hydrothermal activity. Furthermore, the positive correlation between geothermal heat and deep CO2 dissolved in the groundwater of central Italy suggests that (i) the geothermal heat is transported into the aquifers by the same hot CO2 rich fluids causing the Italian CO2 anomaly and (ii) the advective heat flow is the dominant form of heat transfer of the region.
Scientific editing by Igor Maria Villa