Temporal analysis of d13C CO2 and CO2 efflux in soil gas emissions at Mt. Etna: a new tool for volcano monitoring

Salvatore Giammanco, Bor Krajnc, Joze Kotnik, Nives Ogrinc


We monitored the soil gas emission of CO2 from selected sites of Mt. Etna volcano during the period February 2009 to December 2010 by measuring periodically the soil CO2 efflux together with the associated stable carbon isotope composition of CO2 from February 2009 to December 2010. Correlation between the two parameters showed distinct behaviors depending on the sites as a reflection of the different interactions between crustal and sub-crustal fluids. Where deep CO2 interacted with shallow cold ground water and/or with shallow biogenic CO2, a positive correlation between soil CO2 effluxes and carbon isotopes was evident and it depended strongly on the velocity of gas through the soil. In these cases, the highest CO2 effluxes corresponded to d13CCO2 values similar to those of the deep magmatic CO2 emitted from the crater and peri-crateric gas emissions at the summit. In areas where a shallow hydrothermal system was presumed, then a similar correlation was less evident or even absent, suggesting strong control on C isotopes arising from the interactions between CO2 gas and dissolved HCO3- that occur in aquifers at T>120 °C. Marked temporal variations were observed in both parameters at all sites. No significant effect of meteorological parameters was found, so the observed changes were reasonably attributed to variations in volcanic activity of Mt. Etna. In particular, the variations were attributed to increased degassing of CO2 from incoming new magma, possibly coupled with increased hydrothermal activity in at least some of the shallow aquifers of the volcano. The largest anomalies in the monitored parameters preceded the opening of the New Southeast crater in late 2009 and therefore they could represent a key to unveiling the dynamics of the volcano.


Carbon isotopes; CO2 efflux; soil degassing; eruptive activity; Mt. Etna

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-7305
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X