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Sulfur Degassing From Volcanoes: Source Conditions, Surveillance, Plume Chemistry and Earth System Impacts

Abstract : Despite its relatively minor abundance in magmas (compared with H2O and CO2), sulfur degassing from volcanoes is of tremendous significance. It can exert substantial influence on magmatic evolution (potentially capable of triggering eruptions); represents one of the most convenient opportunities for volcano monitoring and hazard assessment; and can result in major impacts on the atmosphere, climate and terrestrial ecosystems at a range of spatial and temporal scales. The complex behavior of sulfur in magmas owes much to its multiple valence states (-II, 0, IV, VI), speciation (e.g., S2, H2S, SO2, OCS and SO3 in the gas phase; S2-, SO42- and SO32- in the melt; and non-volatile solid phases such as pyrrhotite and anhydrite), and variation in stable isotopic composition (32S, 33S, 34S and 36S; e.g., Métrich and Mandeville 2010). Sulfur chemistry in the atmosphere is similarly rich involving gaseous and condensed phases and invoking complex homogeneous and heterogeneous chemical reactions. Sulfur degassing from volcanoes and geothermal areas is also important since a variety of microorganisms thrive based on the redox chemistry of sulfur: by reducing sulfur, thiosulfate, sulfite and sulfate to H2S, or oxidizing sulfur and H2S to sulfate (e.g., Takano et al. 1997; Amend and Shock 2001; Shock et al. 2010). Understanding volcanic sulfur degassing thus provides vital insights into magmatic, volcanic and hydrothermal processes; the impacts of volcanism on the Earth system; and biogeochemical cycles. Here, we review the causes of variability in sulfur abundance and speciation in different geodynamic contexts; the measurement of sulfur emissions from volcanoes; links between subsurface processes and surface observations; sulfur chemistry in volcanic plumes; and the consequences of sulfur degassing for climate and the environment.
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Clive Oppenheimer, Bruno Scaillet, Robert S. Martin. Sulfur Degassing From Volcanoes: Source Conditions, Surveillance, Plume Chemistry and Earth System Impacts. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, Mineralogical Society, 2011, 73, pp.363-421. ⟨10.2138/rmg.2011.73.13⟩. ⟨insu-00614926⟩

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