AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on CO2 emissions from volcanoes

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on December 14, 2009

This is a list of papers on carbon dioxide emissions from the volcanoes. Some global analysis papers are given and some examples of analysis of individual volcanoes. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

UPDATE (December 26, 2014): Burton et al. (2013) added, thanks to mlnfr for pointing it out.
UPDATE (November 24, 2014): Gerlach (2011) added, thanks to Barry for pointing it out.

Deep carbon emissions from volcanoes – Burton et al. (2013) No abstract. Michael R. Burton, Georgina M. Sawyer, Domenico Granieri, 2013: Deep carbon emissions from volcanoes, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, 75, 1, 323-354, doi: 10.2138/rmg.2013.75.11 .” [Full text]

Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide – Gerlach (2011) “Which emits more carbon dioxide (CO2): Earth’s volcanoes or human activities? Research findings indicate unequivocally that the answer to this frequently asked question is human activities. However, most people, including some Earth scientists working in fields outside volcanology, are surprised by this answer. The climate change debate has revived and reinforced the belief, widespread among climate skeptics, that volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities [Gerlach, 2010; Plimer, 2009]. In fact, present-day volcanoes emit relatively modest amounts of CO2, about as much annually as states like Florida, Michigan, and Ohio.” Gerlach, T., (2011), Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide, Eos Trans. AGU, 92(24), 201, DOI: 10.1029/2011EO240001. [Full text]

Feedback between deglaciation and volcanic emissions of CO2 – Huybers & Langmuir (2009) “A global reconstruction of subaerial volcanic activity over the last 40 Kyr shows a pervasive high-latitude increase in volcanism between 12 Ka and 7 Ka that more than doubles global volcanic activity. This increase can be understood as a consequence of melt generated in response to deglacial decompression. We estimate that increased volcanism during this 5 Ka period emitted an additional 1000 to 5000 Gt of CO2 into the atmosphere. Such a flux is consistent in timing and magnitude with ice core observations of a 40 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the second half of the last deglaciation. Anomalous volcanic emissions also persist later into the Holocene, and it appears that elevated volcanic activity helps maintain high levels of CO2 during interglacials.” [Full text]

Volcanic Contributions to the Global Carbon Cycle – Hards (2005) “The contribution to the present day atmospheric CO2 loading from volcanic emissions is, however, relatively insignificant, and it has been estimated that subaerial volcanism releases around 300 Mt/yr CO2, equivalent to just 1 % of anthropogenic emissions (Morner & Etiope, 2002).” [Full text]

Carbon degassing from the lithosphere – Mörner & Etiope (2002) “…it seems realistic to assume 300 Mt/year as lower limit of the global CO2 emission from subaerial volcanoes.” [Full text]

Global carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere by volcanoes – Williams et al. (1992) “Global emission of carbon dioxide by subaerial volcanoes is calculated, using CO2/SO2 from volcanic gas analyses and SO2 flux, to be 34 ± 24 x 1012 g CO2/yr from passive degassing and 31 ± 22 x 1012 g CO2/yr from eruptions. Volcanic CO2 presently represents only 0.22% of anthropogenic emissions but may have contributed to significant “greenhouse” effects at times in Earth history.”

Carbon sources in arc volcanism, with implications for the carbon cycle – Varekamp et al. (1992) “The modem combined processes of MOR volcanism, slab alteration, and subduction volcanism do not produce a substantial carbon flux into the exosphere, and rate-changes in ocean floor spreading are unlikely to cause major changes in atmospheric CO2 as a result of changes in the volcanic CO2 fluxes.”

Volatile fluxes from volcanoes – Le Cloarec & Marty (1991) “Volatile fluxes from Mid Ocean Ridge (MOR) and subaerial volcanism have been estimated or re-evaluated using several natural tracers-3He, 210Po, SO2-and chemical ratios of volatile species in lavas and volcanic gases. These estimates confirm the net predominance of anthropogenic fluxes over volcanic fluxes for CO2, SO2 and trace metals.”

Annual volcanic carbon dioxide emission: An estimate from eruption chronologies – Leavitt (1982) “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. … This input is well below man’s current CO2 production of 4–5 · 1014 moles CO2 yr−1.”

Volcanic Contributions to the Atmosphere and Ocean – Cotton (1944) “IF it be assumed, as is now again the fashion, that the nascent earth passed through a liquid stage, it is obvious that “the molten spheroid … retained, occluded within itself, some large part of the water in the present hydrosphere, as well as much ot the carbon dioxide represented by the present carbonates and carbonaceous deposits”1. Most of the carbon dioxide that has become available as a source of carbon is undoubtedly of volcanic origin, being derived from magma.”

Individual volcanoes

CO2 emissions from the Yellowstone volcanic system – Werner & Brantley (2003) “Two methods are used to estimate CO2 degassing from the Yellowstone magmatic-hydrothermal system. … Comparison of modeled estimates with surface measurements suggests that 3.7 ± 1.3 × 1011 mol y−1 (45 ± 16 kt d−1) of CO2 are released from Yellowstone due to diffuse degassing. … The contribution of CO2 from Yellowstone to global volcanic CO2 emissions (∼6–7 × 1012 mol y−1) is comparable to the CO2 contribution from other large volcanic systems like Popocatepetl, Mexico and the combined contribution from the Hawaii hot spot.” [Full text]

Carbon dioxide emission rate of Kīlauea Volcano: Implications for primary magma and the summit reservoir – Gerlach et al. (2002) “We report a CO2 emission rate of 8500 metric tons per day (t d−1) for the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, several times larger than previous estimates.”

Degassing of SO2 and CO2 at Mount Etna (Sicily) as an indicator of pre-eruptive ascent and shallow emplacement of magma – Bruno et al. (2001) “We studied soil CO2 emissions together with crater SO2 fluxes from Mt Etna during the period July 1997 to March 1999. … Based on the temporal variations of measured soil CO2 and crater SO2 data, five intervals of anomalous degassing were recognized.”

Remote sensing of CO2 and H2O emission rates from Masaya volcano, Nicaragua – Burton et al. (2000) “We report the first precise field measurements of volcanic CO2, and H2O, in addition to HCl, HF, and SO2, in the plume of Masaya volcano, Nicaragua, a basaltic volcano with a record of Plinian activity. The molar ratios for CO2: SO2 (2.3–2.5) and H2O: SO2 (66–69) observed in February–March 1998 and March 1999 show no significant variation over the 12 month period. … Emission rates of SO2 from the summit crater, determined by correlation spectroscopy, averaged 21 kg s–1 during the study periods, indicating CO2, H2O, HCl, and HF emission rates of 32–36, 380–420, 7.0–7.8, and 0.86–0.95 kg s–1, respectively.”

Hydrothermal CO2 emission from the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand – Seward & Kerrick (1996) “The CO2 flux to the atmosphere from active geothermal systems in the back-arc marginal basin environment of the Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ), North Island, New Zealand, has been estimated. … The integrated CO2 flux for 20 geothermal systems in the TVZ is estimated to be approximately 1010 mol yr−1. It is concluded that the global hydrothermal CO2 flux from subareal environments alone may be comparable to that estimated for direct volcanic emanations.”


6 Responses to “Papers on CO2 emissions from volcanoes”

  1. barry said

    Hi Ari,

    Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide – Gerlach (2011) Which emits more carbon dioxide (CO2): Earth’s volcanoes or human activities? Research findings indicate unequivocally that the answer to this frequently asked question is human activities. However, most people, including some Earth scientists working in fields outside volcanology, are surprised by this answer. The climate change debate has revived and reinforced the belief, widespread among climate skeptics, that volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities [Gerlach,2010; Plimer,2009].>%5BFull Text]

    See also –

  2. barry said

    Tsk, here’s the link to full.

  3. barry said

    …and wordpress can’t read the last link. [Link]

  4. Ari Jokimäki said

    Gerlach (2011) added, thanks Barry! 🙂

  5. mlnfr said

    here’s a quite new paper on global emissions by Burton et al. 2013. Deep Carbon Emissions from Volcanoes.

  6. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added it, thanks! 🙂

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