Groundwater geochemistry of the Mt. Vesuvius area: implications for volcano surveillance and relationship with hydrological and seismic signals

Cinzia Federico, Paolo Madonia, Paola Cusano, Simona Petrosino

Abstract


Geochemical data obtained between 1998 and 2011 at the Mt. Vesuvius aquifer are discussed, focusing on the effects of both the hydrological regime and the temporal pattern of local seismicity. Water samples were collected in a permanent network of wells and springs located in the areas that are mostly affected by the ascent of magmatic volatiles, and their chemical composition and dissolved gas content were analyzed. As well as the geochemical parameters that describe the behavior of groundwater at Mt. Vesuvius, we discuss the temporal distribution of volcano-tectonic earthquakes. The seismological data set was collected by the stations forming the permanent and mobile network of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - Osservatorio Vesuviano (INGV-OV). Our analysis of seismic data collected during 1998-2011 identified statistically significant variations in the seismicity rate, marked by phases of decreasing activity from October 1999 to May 2001 and increasing activity from August 2004 to mid-2006. The water chemistry shows peculiar patterns, characterized by a changeable input of CO2-rich and saline water, which must be related to either a changing stress field or an increased input of CO2-rich vapor. The water chemistry data from 1999 to 2003 account for both higher fluid pressure (which induced the seismic crisis of 1999 that peaked with a 3.6-magnitude earthquake in October 1999) and the increased input of CO2-rich fluids. The highest emission of CO2 from the crater fumaroles and the corresponding increase in dissolved carbon in groundwater characterize the phase of low seismicity. The termination of the phase of intense deep degassing is associated with a change in water chemistry and a peculiar seismic event that was recorded in July 2003. All these seismic and geochemical patterns are interpreted according to temporal variations in the regional and local stress field.


Keywords


Water chemistry; Seismicity; Hydrology; Volcanic surveillance

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References


DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-6453
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X