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Book Sections Year : 2019

Gases as Precursory Signals: Experimental Simulations, New Concepts and Models of Magma Degassing

Michel Pichavant
N. Le Gall
  • Function : Author
Bruno Scaillet


Volatile release during magma ascent in volcanic conduits (magma degassing) forms the basis for using volcanic gases as precursory signals. Recent high temperature high pressure experimental simulations have yielded results that challenge key assumptions related to magma degassing and are important for the interpretation of glass inclusion and gas data and for using volcanic gas as precursory signals. The experimental data show that, for ascent rates expected in natural systems, pure H2O basaltic melts will evolve mostly close to equilibrium when decompressed from 200 to 25 MPa. In the same way, degassing of H2O–S species evolves at near equilibrium, although this conclusion is limited by the number of S solubility data available for basaltic melts. However, degassing of CO2 is anomalous in all studies, whether performed on basaltic or rhyolitic melts. CO2 stays concentrated in the melt at levels far exceeding solubilities. The anomalous behaviour of CO2, when associated with near equilibrium H2O losses, yields post-decompression glasses with CO2 concentrations systematically higher than equilibrium degassing curves. Therefore, there is strong experimental support for disequilibrium degassing during ascent of CO2-bearing magmas. The existence of volatile concentration gradients around nucleated gas bubbles suggests that degassing is controlled by the respective mobilities (diffusivities) of volatiles within the melt. The recently formulated diffusive fractionation model reproduces the main characteristics, especially the volatile concentrations, of experimental glasses. The model also shows that the gas phase is more H2O-rich than expected at equilibrium because CO2 transfer toward the gas phase is hampered by its retention within the melt. However, only integrated gas compositions are calculated. Similarly, only bulk experimental fluid compositions are determined in recent experiments. Thus, constraints on the local gas phase are becoming necessary for the application to volcanoes. This stresses the need for the direct analysis of gas bubbles nucleated in decompression experiments. Pre-eruptive changes in volcanic CO2/SO2 and H2O/CO2 gas ratios are interpreted to reflect different pressures of gas-melt segregation in the conduit, an approach that assume gas-melt equilibrium. However, if disequilibrium magma degassing is accepted, the use of volatile saturation codes is no longer possible and caution must be exercised with the application of local equilibrium to volcanic gases. Future developments in the interpretation of gas data require progress from both sides, experimental and volcanological. One priority is to reduce the gap in scales between experiments and gas measurements.
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insu-02042982 , version 1 (27-02-2019)



Michel Pichavant, N. Le Gall, Bruno Scaillet. Gases as Precursory Signals: Experimental Simulations, New Concepts and Models of Magma Degassing. Joachim Gottsmann, Jürgen Neuberg, Bettina Scheu. Volcanic Unrest. From Science to Society, Springer, pp.139-154, 2019, Advances in Volcanology, 978-3-319-58411-9. ⟨10.1007/11157_2018_35⟩. ⟨insu-02042982⟩
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