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Monitoring of jökulhlaups and element fluxes in proglacial Icelandic rivers using osmotic samplers

Jones, Morgan T.; Gałeczka, Iwona M.; Gkritzalis-Papadopoulos, Athanasios; Palmer, Martin R.; Mowlem, Matthew C.; Vogfjörð, Kristín; Jónsson, Þorsteinn; Gislason, Sigurður R.. 2015 Monitoring of jökulhlaups and element fluxes in proglacial Icelandic rivers using osmotic samplers. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 291. 112-124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.12.018

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Abstract/Summary

The quantification of volatile emissions from volcanoes is an integral part of understanding magmatic systems, with the exsolution and extent of volcanic degassing having a large impact on the nature of an eruption. Measurements of volatiles have traditionally focused on gas emissions into the atmosphere, but volatiles can also become dissolved in proximal water bodies en route to the surface. Thus the monitoring of rivers draining active volcanic areas can provide insights to identifying changes in activity. This process is particularly important for sub-glacial volcanoes in Iceland, where much of the volatile release is transported within glacial outbreak floods, termed jökulhlaups. Monitoring and characterising these phenomena is hampered by the dependence on spot sampling of stochastic events under challenging field conditions, which often leads to bias in the collected data. A recent technological advance is the osmotic sampler, an electricity-free pump that continuously collects water that can subsequently be divided into time-averaged samples. This technique allows for continued and unsupervised deployment of a sampler for weeks to months, representing a cost-efficient form of chemical monitoring. In this study we deployed osmotic samplers in two rivers in southern Iceland. Skálm is a proglacial river from Mýrdalsjökull glacier and Katla volcano, while Skaftá is a larger drainage system from the western part of Vatnajökull glacier. Both rivers are prone to jökulhlaups from geothermal and volcanic sources, and a small jökulhlaup of geothermal origin occurred during the second deployment in Skaftá in January 2014. The two deployments show that osmotic samplers are capable of delivering accurate chemical data in turbulent conditions for several key elements. Total dissolved fluxes for the deployment at Skaftá are calculated to be Na = 9.9 tonnes/day, Mg = 10.5 t/d, Si = 34.7 t/d, Cl = 11.0 t/d, Ca = 31.6 t/d, DIC = 50.8 t/d, and SO4 = 28.3 t/d, with significant elevations of element concentrations during the jökulhlaup. Dissolved fluxes vary considerably on temporal scales from days to seasons, so that spot sampling may miss pulses in concentrations. This is particularly important for elements such as Mn. The continuous geochemical records from the osmotic samplers make it possible to identify pulses of fluxes attributed to sea spray, groundwater, and subglacial sources. The samplers can also be combined with existing methods of river monitoring, such as conductivity and discharge, to accurately assess changes to fluvial chemistry due to volcanic inputs. Moreover, there is the potential to deploy osmotic samplers in a range of other affected water bodies (e.g. wells, springs, lakes) to gain further insights into volcanic processes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.12.018
ISSN: 03770273
Additional Keywords: Osmotic sampler; Jökulhlaups; Subglacial volcanoes; River monitoring; Element fluxes; Futurevolc
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Date made live: 24 Feb 2015 13:24 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/509869

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