Origin of the geogenic gases and preliminary estimation of the carbon release of Greece

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Abstract

Volatiles are transported from the deep crust or mantle to the surface in geodynamically active areas where seismic, volcanic and geothermal activity is present; the circulation of hydrothermal fluids in the crust is enhanced. In such areas, faults may act as preferential pathways for advective gas-carrying fluid transport. Towards the surface, pressure decrease allows the gases to escape from the fluids into soil gas and eventually into the atmosphere (King, 1986). The migration of carbon-bearing crustal and mantle fluids contributes to Earth’s carbon cycle (Berner & Kothavala 2001). However, till now, the mechanisms, magnitudes and time variations of carbon transfer from depth to the surface remain the least understood parts of the global carbon budget. Carbon dioxide and methane are the main contributors of the total amount of C-degassing from geological (volcanic and non-volcanic) sources. From the beginning of the last century, high attention has been paid to the reservoirs of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere because they represent the most dangerous species in terms of global warning. The increased amount of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere has important implications for the energy balance and the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Mörner and Etiope (2002) calculated that 102-103 Mt of CO2 are presumably involved in the carbon cycle every year. This estimation though, is affected by high uncertainty as a number of sources and C-degassing environments that account for this high leakage were not taken into consideration. Greece belongs to the most geodynamically active regions of the world and as such, it has to be considered an area of intense geogenic degassing. Regarding carbon, the territory is characterized by the high hydrothermal and volcanic activity of the South Aegean Active Volcanic Arc (SAAVA), and by widespread geological seeps of buried carbon dioxide and methane. In the present work, we present more than 700 literature data of free gases spread along the whole Hellenic territory to get insight on geographic distribution and composition of the released fluids. Moreover, we review all the published studies on CO2 and/or CH4 output of high degassing areas of Greece that are mainly concentrated along the SAAVA in a first attempt to estimate the total geologic output of the nation. Helium isotope data propose that the highest mantle contribution (50 to 90%) is found along the SAAVA, whereas the lowest in continental Greece (0-20%), with the atmospheric contribution being mostly negligible. Based on the geographical distribution of the gases, it is evident that the R/RA ratios and CO2 concentrations increase in areas characterized by: i) thin crust; ii) elevated heat flow values; iii) recent (Pleistocene-Quaternary) volcanic activity; and iv) deep routed extensional or transtensional regional faults. The highest values are therefore found along the SAAVA and the lowest in the western part of Greece where CH4 emission is prevailing. Furthermore, it was noticed that the majority of the samples present a prevailing limestone C component, whilst only few samples have a prevailing mantle C component (Sano and Marty, 1995). It seems barely possible though to distinguish CO2 deriving from crustal and slabrelated limestones. Additionally, due to the complex geodynamic history, the mantle C isotope composition could be affected by subduction-related metasomatism and, similarly to the nearby Italian area (Martelli et al., 2008), the C isotope composition could be more positive. In this case, the mantle contributio
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-331
Number of pages2
JournalBULLETIN OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF GREECE
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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