Atmospheric sources and sinks of volcanogenic elements in a basaltic volcano (Etna, Italy)

Alessandro Aiuppa, Sergio Calabrese, Francesco Parello, Bellomo, Aiuppa, D'Alessandro, Allard, Brusca, Emanuela Rita Bagnato

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75 Citations (Scopus)


This study reports on the first quantitative assessment of the geochemical cycling of volcanogenic elements, from their atmospheric release to their deposition back to the ground. Etna’s emissions and atmospheric depositions were characterized for more than 2 years, providing data on major and trace element abundance in both volcanic aerosols and bulk depositions. Volcanic aerosols were collected from 2004 to 2007, at the summit vents by conventional filtration techniques. Precipitation was collected, from 2006 to 2007, in five rain gauges, at various altitudes around the summit craters. Analytical results for volcanic aerosols showed that the dominant anions were S, Cl, and F, and that the most abundant metals were K, Ca, Mg, Al, Fe, and Ti (1.5–50 lg m_3). Minor and trace element concentrations ranged from about 0.001 to 1 lg m_3. From such analysis, we derived an aerosol mass flux ranging from 3000 to 8000 t a_1. Most analysed elements had higher concentrations close to the emission vent, confirming the prevailing volcanic contribution to bulk deposition. Calculated deposition rates were integrated over the whole Etna area, to provide a first estimate of the total deposition fluxes for several major and trace elements. These calculated deposition fluxes ranged from 20 to 80 t a_1 (Al, Fe, Si) to 0.01–0.1 t a_1 (Bi, Cs, Sc, Th, Tl, and U). Comparison between volcanic emissions and atmospheric deposition showed that the amount of trace elements scavenged from the plume in the surrounding of the volcano ranged from 0.1% to 1% for volatile elements such as As, Bi, Cd, Cs, Cu, Tl, and from 1% to 5% for refractory elements such as Al, Ba, Co, Fe, Ti, Th, U, and V. Consequently, more than 90% of volcanogenic trace elements were dispersed further away, and may cause a regional scale impact. Such a large difference between deposition and emission fluxes at Mt. Etna pointed to relatively high stability and long residence time of aerosols in the plume.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7401-7425
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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