Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) leaves as a bio-indicator of volcanic gas, aerosol and ash deposition onto the flanks of Mt Etna in 2005-2007

Alessandro Aiuppa, Sergio Calabrese, Watt, Martin, Collins, Calabrese, Wright, Aiuppa, Mather, Pyle, Day

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Sweet chestnut leaves (Castanea sativa) collected from the flanks of Mt Etna volcano in 2005–2007 were analysed by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry to investigate the spatial and temporal variability of element concentrations. The aim of this work was to determine whether these leaves are a bio-indicator for volcanic gas, aerosol and ash deposition and to gain new insights into the environmental effects of quiescent and eruptive volcanic plumes. Results show a positive correlation between sample variability in the concentration of elements in Castanea sativa and enrichment factors of elements in the plume. The spatial and temporal variability of chalcophilic elements (As, Cd, Cu, Mo, Tl, Zn) is consistent with prevailing winds transporting eruptive plumes to the south-east of the summit, resulting in enhanced plume deposition onto the flanks of the volcano. Similar spatial and temporal variability was found for the halide-forming elements (Cs, K, Rb) and intermediate elements (Al, Co, Mn). The spatial variability of chalcophilic, intermediate and halide-forming elements during quiescent periods was diminished (relative to eruptive periods) and could not be explained by plume deposition. In contrast, the concentrations of lithophilic elements (Ba, Ca, Mg, Sr) did not show any clear spatial variability even during eruptive periods. Comparisons between enrichment factors for elements in Castanea sativa and literature values for enrichment factors of the volcanic plume, groundwater and lichen were made. Whilst Castanea sativa offers insights into the spatial and temporal variability of deposition, the species may not be a bio-indicator for plume composition due to biological fractionation.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)107-119
Numero di pagine13
RivistaJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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