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Defusing volcanic eruptions: the escape of volcanic gas

Objective

Volcanic eruptions are driven by the exsolution and escape of dissolved volatiles. Fast and efficient escape of volatiles leads to a lower potential for an explosive eruption: defusing it. Yet, despite recognition of the importance of volatile escape, the mechanisms and kinetics of degassing remain unclear. This study aims to use a pioneering approach to reconstruct the escape of volcanic gases.
Exsolved gases are ephemeral and do not survive eruption. However textural evidence such as vesicles, fractures and veins in erupted magma lingers. Moreover, new data shows that chemical signals of degassing endure, not only in minerals, but also in quenched melt.
Volcanic gases are enriched in metals such as Hg, Tl, and Cu resulting in ore deposits and contributing to global metal emissions. Such enrichment is based on the preference of these metals for a gas phase. This project will establish how metals partition between volcanic gas and melt (basalt and rhyolite), how quickly such equilibrium partitioning is reached, and what can be learned regarding magma degassing from gas emissions and melt compositions as measured at volcanoes.
The first part of the project focuses on obtaining gas-melt partition coefficients and diffusivities of metals. The second part of the project involves comparison to natural samples. Metal concentration variations will be mapped within an exposed magmatic conduit and in recent explosively erupted volcanic rocks. The third part of the project aims to model the escape of volcanic gases using reactive flow modeling.
The combined results of this project will not only show how and how fast volcanic gases escape, but also form the basis of a new approach to quantifying historic (from glass shards) and future (from gas emissions) magmatic metal release to potential ore forming systems as well as to the atmosphere. Moreover, linking gas chemistry to dynamic degassing processes in a quantitative model will aid prediction of eruption style and timing.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/fossil energy/gas
  • /natural sciences/earth and related environmental sciences/geology/volcanology
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/inorganic chemistry/metals

Call for proposal

ERC-2012-StG_20111012
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 604 211
Principal investigator
Kim Berlo (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Gill Wells (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 604 211
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Kim Berlo (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Gill Wells (Ms.)