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Redox control of sulfur degassing in silicic magmas

Abstract : Explosive eruptions involve mainly silicic magmas in which sulfur solubility and diffusivity are low. This inhibits sulfur exsolution during magma uprise as compared to more mafic magmas such as basalts. Silicic magmas can nevertheless liberate large quantities of sulfur as shown by the monitoring of SO2 in recent explosive silicic eruptions in arc settings, which invariably have displayed an excess of sulfur relative to that calculated from melt degassing. If this excess sulfur is stored in a fluid phase, it implies a strong preference of sulfur for the fluid over the melt under oxidized conditions, with fluid/melt partition coefficients varying between 50 and 2612, depending on melt composition. Experimentally determined sulfur partition coefficients for a dacite bulk composition confirm this trend and show that in volcanic eruptions displaying excess gaseous sulfur, the magmas were probably fluid-saturated at depth. The experiments show that in more reduced silicic magmas, those coexisting only with pyrrhotite, the partition coefficient decreases dramatically to values around 1, because pyrrhotite locks up nearly all the sulfur of the magma. Reevaluation of the sulfur yields of some major historical eruptions in the light of these results shows that for oxidized magmas, the presence of 1-5 wt % fluid may indeed account for the differences observed between the petrologic estimate of the sulfur yield and that constrained from ice core data. Explosive eruptions of very large magnitude but involving reduced and cool silicic magmas, such as the Toba or the Bishop events, release only minor amounts of sulfur and could have consequently negligible long-term (years to centuries) atmospherical effects. This redox control on sulfur release diminishes as the melt composition becomes less silicic and as temperature increases, because both factors favor more efficient melt sulfur degassing owing to the increased diffusivity of sulfur in silicate melts under such conditions.
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Bruno Scaillet, Béatrice Clémente, Bernard W. Evans, Michel Pichavant. Redox control of sulfur degassing in silicic magmas. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 1998, 103 (B10), pp.23,937-23,949. ⟨10.1029/98JB02301⟩. ⟨insu-00717692⟩

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