Temperature and pressure gas geoindicators at the Solfatara fumaroles (Campi Flegrei)

Giovanni Chiodini, Rosario Avino, Stefano Caliro, Carmine Minopoli


Long time series of fluid pressure and temperature within a hydrothermal system feeding the Solfatara fumaroles are investigated here, on the basis of the chemical equilibria within the CO2–H2O–H2–CO gas system. The Pisciarelli fumarole external to Solfatara crater shows an annual cycle of CO contents that indicates the occurrence of shallow secondary processes that mask the deep signals. In contrast, the Bocca Grande and Bocca Nova fumaroles located inside Solfatara crater do not show evidence of secondary processes, and their compositional variations are linked to the temperature–pressure changes within the hydrothermal system. The agreement between geochemical signals and the ground movements of the area (bradyseismic phenomena) suggests a direct relationship between the pressurization process and the ground uplift. Since 2007, the gas geoindicators have indicated pressurization of the system, which is most probably caused by the arrival of deep gases with high CO2 contents in the shallow parts of the hydrothermal system. This pressurization process causes critical conditions in the hydrothermal system, as highlighted by the increase in the fumarole temperature, the opening of new vents, and the localized seismic activity. If the pressurization process continues with time, it is not possible to rule out the occurrence of phreatic explosions.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-5002
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X