Annual volcanic carbon dioxide emission: An estimate from eruption chronologies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Continuing interest in the effects of carbon dioxide on climate has been promoted by the exponentially increasing anthropogenic production of CO<inf>2</inf>. Volcanoes are also a major source of carbon dioxide, but their average input to the atmosphere is generally considered minor relative to anthropogenic input. This study examines eruption chronologies to determine a new estimate of the volcanic CO<inf>2</inf> input and to test if temporal fluctuations may be resolved. Employing representative average values of 2.7 g cm<sup>-3</sup> as density of erupted material, 0.2 wt percent CO<inf>2</inf> in the original melt, 60 percent degassing during eruption, and an average volume of 0.1 km<sup>3</sup> for each of the eruptions in the recently published eruption chronology of Hirschboeck (1980), a volcanic input of about 1.5 · 10<sup>11</sup> moles CO<inf>2</inf> yr<sup>-1</sup> was determined for the period 1800-1969. The period 1800-1899 had a somewhat lower input than 1900-1969, which could well be related more to completeness of observational data than to a real increase in volcanic CO<inf>2</inf>. This input is well below man's current CO<inf>2</inf> production of 4-5 · 10<sup>14</sup> moles CO<inf>2</inf> yr<sup>-1</sup>. The average values above together with specific volumetric estimates were employed to calculate CO<inf>2</inf> input from individual historic eruptions, massive flood basalts, and ash-flow eruptions. Total CO<inf>2</inf> release from the largest of flood basalt and ash-flow sequences was 10<sup>15</sup>-10<sup>16</sup> moles of CO<inf>2</inf>. The impact of these sources on global atmospheric CO<inf>2</inf> and climate, however, will be limited by the duration and spacing of the major individual eruptive periods in the sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Geology
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1982

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Ashes
Basalt
Carbon Dioxide
chronology
Carbon dioxide
volcanic eruption
carbon dioxide
Volcanoes
Degassing
ash flow
flood basalt
basalt
climate
degassing
spacing
volcano
melt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Engineering(all)

Cite this

Annual volcanic carbon dioxide emission : An estimate from eruption chronologies. / Leavitt, Steven.

In: Environmental Geology, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1982, p. 15-21.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Continuing interest in the effects of carbon dioxide on climate has been promoted by the exponentially increasing anthropogenic production of CO2. Volcanoes are also a major source of carbon dioxide, but their average input to the atmosphere is generally considered minor relative to anthropogenic input. This study examines eruption chronologies to determine a new estimate of the volcanic CO2 input and to test if temporal fluctuations may be resolved. Employing representative average values of 2.7 g cm-3 as density of erupted material, 0.2 wt percent CO2 in the original melt, 60 percent degassing during eruption, and an average volume of 0.1 km3 for each of the eruptions in the recently published eruption chronology of Hirschboeck (1980), a volcanic input of about 1.5 · 1011 moles CO2 yr-1 was determined for the period 1800-1969. The period 1800-1899 had a somewhat lower input than 1900-1969, which could well be related more to completeness of observational data than to a real increase in volcanic CO2. This input is well below man's current CO2 production of 4-5 · 1014 moles CO2 yr-1. The average values above together with specific volumetric estimates were employed to calculate CO2 input from individual historic eruptions, massive flood basalts, and ash-flow eruptions. Total CO2 release from the largest of flood basalt and ash-flow sequences was 1015-1016 moles of CO2. The impact of these sources on global atmospheric CO2 and climate, however, will be limited by the duration and spacing of the major individual eruptive periods in the sequences.",
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