Environmental impact of magmatic fluorine emission in the Mt. Etna area

Francesco Parello, Alessandro Aiuppa, Sergio Bellomo, Alessandro Aiuppa, Walter D'Alessandro, Sergio Francesco Bellomo

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42 Citations (Scopus)


The sustained and uninterrupted plume degassing at Mount Etna volcano, Southern Italy, represents the troposphere's most prominent natural source of fluorine. Of the ∼ 200 Mg of fluorine (as HFg) emitted daily by the volcano, 1.6 ± 2.7 Mg are deposited by wet and dry deposition. Fluorine-deposition via volcanic ash, here characterised for the first time, can be quite significant during volcanic eruptions (i.e. 60 Mg of fluorine were deposited during the 2001 eruption through volcanic ash, corresponding to ∼ 85% of the total fluorine deposition). Despite the fact that these depositions are huge, the fate of the deposited fluorine and its impact on the environment are poorly understood. We herein present original data on fluorine abundance in vegetation (Castanea Sativa and Pinus Nigra) and andosoils from the volcano's flank, in the attempt to reveal the potential impact of volcanogenic fluorine emissions. Fluorine contents in chestnut leaves and pine needles are in the range 1.8–35 μg/g and 2.1–74 μg/g respectively; they exceed the typical background concentrations in plants growing in rural areas, but fall within the lower range of typical concentrations in plants growing near high fluorine anthropogenic emission sources. The rare plume fumigations on the lower flanks of Mt Etna (distance > 4 km from summit craters) are probably the cause of the “undisturbed” nature of Etnean vegetation: climatic conditions, which limit the growth of vegetation on the upper regione deserta, are a natural limit to the development of more severe impacts. High fluorine contents, associated with visible symptoms, were only measured in pine needles at three sites, located near recently-active (2001 to 2003) lateral eruptive fractures. Total fluorine contents (FTOT) in the Etnean soils have a range of 112–341 μg/g, and fall within the typical range of undisturbed soils; fluorine extracted with distilled water (FH2O) have a range of 5.1 to 61 μg/g and accounts for 2–40% of FTOT. FH2O is higher in topsoils from the eastern flank (downwind), while it decreases with depth in soil profiles and on increasing soil grain size (thereby testifying to its association with clay–mineral-rich, fine soil fractions). The fluorine adsorption capacity of the andosoils acts as a natural barrier that protects the groundwater system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Publication statusPublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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