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Limestone assimilation and the origin of CO2 emissions at the Alban Hills (Central Italy): constraints from experimental petrology.

Abstract : The Alban Hills volcanic region (20 km south of Rome, in the Roman Province) emitted a large volume of potassic magmas (> 280 km3) during the Quaternary. Chemical interactions between ascending magmas and the ~7000-8000-m-thick sedimentary carbonate basement are documented by abundant high temperature skarn xenoliths in the eruptive products and have been frequently corroborated by geochemical surveys. In this paper we characterize the effect of carbonate assimilation on phase relationships at 200 MPa and 1150-1050°C by experimental petrology. Calcite and dolomite addition promotes the crystallization of Ca-rich pyroxene and Mg-rich olivine respectively, and addition of both carbonates results in the desilication of the melt. Furthermore, carbonate assimilation liberates a large quantity of CO2-rich fluid. A comparison of experimental versus natural mineral, glass and bulk rock compositions suggests large variations in the degree of carbonate assimilation for the different Alban Hills eruptions. A maximum of 15 wt% assimilation is suggested by some melt inclusion and clinopyroxene compositions; however, most of the natural data indicate assimilation of between 3 and 12 wt% carbonate. Current high CO2 emissions in this area most likely indicate that such an assimilation process still occurs at depth. We calculate that a magma intruding into the carbonate basement with a rate of ~1-2•106 m3/year, estimated by geophysical studies, and assimilating 3-12wt% of host rocks would release an amount of CO2 matching the current yearly emissions at the Alban Hills. Our results strongly suggest that present CO2 emissions in this region are the shallow manifestation of hot mafic magma intrusion in the carbonate-hosted reservoir at 5-6 km depth, with important consequences for the present-day volcanic hazard evaluation in this densely populated and historical area.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 10, 2007 - 11:20:18 AM
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Giada Iacono-Marziano, Fabrice Gaillard, Michel Pichavant. Limestone assimilation and the origin of CO2 emissions at the Alban Hills (Central Italy): constraints from experimental petrology.. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Elsevier, 2007, 166 (2), pp.91-105. ⟨10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2007.07.001⟩. ⟨insu-00170255⟩



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