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

Jones, Morgan T.; Hembury, Deborah J.; Palmer, Martin R.; Tonge, Bill; Darling, W.George; 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.

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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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Earth hazards and systems
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Environmental tracers, International development
Date made live: 01 Jul 2011 10:23 +0 (UTC)

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