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The weathering and element fluxes from active volcanoes to the oceans: a Montserrat case study

The weathering and element fluxes from active volcanoes to the oceans: a Montserrat case study
The weathering and element fluxes from active volcanoes to the oceans: a Montserrat case study
The eruptions of the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat (Lesser Antilles) from 1995 to present have draped parts of the island in fresh volcaniclastic deposits. Volcanic islands such as Montserrat are an important component of global weathering fluxes, due to high relief and runoff and high chemical and physical weathering rates of fresh volcaniclastic material. We examine the impact of the recent volcanism on the geochemistry of pre-existing hydrological systems and demonstrate that the initial chemical weathering yield of fresh volcanic material is higher than that from older deposits within the Lesser Antilles arc. The silicate weathering may have consumed 1.3% of the early CO2 emissions from the Soufrière Hills volcano. In contrast, extinct volcanic edifices such as the Centre Hills in central Montserrat are a net sink for atmospheric CO2 due to continued elevated weathering rates relative to continental silicate rock weathering. The role of an arc volcano as a source or sink for atmospheric CO2 is therefore critically dependent on the stage it occupies in its life cycle, changing from a net source to a net sink as the eruptive activity wanes. While the onset of the eruption has had a profound effect on the groundwater around the Soufrière Hills center, the geochemistry of springs in the Centre Hills 5 km to the north appear unaffected by the recent volcanism. This has implications for the potential risk, or lack thereof, of contamination of potable water supplies for the island’s inhabitants.
soufrière hills volcano, montserrat, silicate weathering, CO2 sequestration, hydrology, geochemistry
0258-8900
207-222
Jones, Morgan T.
cf1c7a87-0578-4e4b-8708-a22a5b9e7df4
Hembury, Deborah J.
a9e797f5-ae83-4672-8922-b347098aa051
Palmer, Martin R.
d2e60e81-5d6e-4ddb-a243-602537286080
Tonge, Bill
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Darling, W. George
70c666ac-6468-465c-bde4-a7fcd7680316
Loughlin, Susan C.
d7e93a55-523c-4454-b5ab-6e058f9ed4f5
Jones, Morgan T.
cf1c7a87-0578-4e4b-8708-a22a5b9e7df4
Hembury, Deborah J.
a9e797f5-ae83-4672-8922-b347098aa051
Palmer, Martin R.
d2e60e81-5d6e-4ddb-a243-602537286080
Tonge, Bill
02eb91c1-7dfc-4b2d-9756-14187c515dd6
Darling, W. George
70c666ac-6468-465c-bde4-a7fcd7680316
Loughlin, Susan C.
d7e93a55-523c-4454-b5ab-6e058f9ed4f5

Jones, Morgan T., Hembury, Deborah J., Palmer, Martin R., Tonge, Bill, Darling, W. George and Loughlin, Susan C. (2011) The weathering and element fluxes from active volcanoes to the oceans: a Montserrat case study. Bulletin of Volcanology, 73 (3), 207-222. (doi:10.1007/s00445-010-0397-0).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The eruptions of the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat (Lesser Antilles) from 1995 to present have draped parts of the island in fresh volcaniclastic deposits. Volcanic islands such as Montserrat are an important component of global weathering fluxes, due to high relief and runoff and high chemical and physical weathering rates of fresh volcaniclastic material. We examine the impact of the recent volcanism on the geochemistry of pre-existing hydrological systems and demonstrate that the initial chemical weathering yield of fresh volcanic material is higher than that from older deposits within the Lesser Antilles arc. The silicate weathering may have consumed 1.3% of the early CO2 emissions from the Soufrière Hills volcano. In contrast, extinct volcanic edifices such as the Centre Hills in central Montserrat are a net sink for atmospheric CO2 due to continued elevated weathering rates relative to continental silicate rock weathering. The role of an arc volcano as a source or sink for atmospheric CO2 is therefore critically dependent on the stage it occupies in its life cycle, changing from a net source to a net sink as the eruptive activity wanes. While the onset of the eruption has had a profound effect on the groundwater around the Soufrière Hills center, the geochemistry of springs in the Centre Hills 5 km to the north appear unaffected by the recent volcanism. This has implications for the potential risk, or lack thereof, of contamination of potable water supplies for the island’s inhabitants.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 8 October 2010
Published date: 2011
Keywords: soufrière hills volcano, montserrat, silicate weathering, CO2 sequestration, hydrology, geochemistry
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 188319
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/188319
ISSN: 0258-8900
PURE UUID: 697a5975-6cfc-4f57-9486-255a5cf9df77

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 May 2011 10:30
Last modified: 08 Nov 2021 19:17

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Contributors

Author: Morgan T. Jones
Author: Deborah J. Hembury
Author: Bill Tonge
Author: W. George Darling
Author: Susan C. Loughlin

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