Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Research article
20 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 20 Dec 2014

Characterisation of the magmatic signature in gas emissions from Turrialba Volcano, Costa Rica

Y. Moussallam, N. Peters, C. Ramírez, C. Oppenheimer, A. Aiuppa, and G. Giudice

Abstract. The equilibrium composition of volcanic gases with their magma is often overprinted by interaction with a shallow hydrothermal system. Identifying the magmatic signature of volcanic gases is critical to relate their composition to properties of the magma (temperature, fO2, gas-melt segregation depth). We report measurements of the chemical composition and flux of the major gas species emitted from Turrialba Volcano during March 2013. Measurements were made of two vents in the summit region, one of which opened in 2010 and the other in 2012. We determined an average SO2 flux of 5.2 ± 1.9 kg s-1 using scanning ultraviolet spectroscopy, and molar proportions of H2O, CO2, SO2, HCl, CO and H2 gases of 94.16, 4.03, 1.56, 0.23, 0.003 and 0.009% respectively by open-path Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry and a multi-species gas-sensing system. Together, these data imply fluxes of 88, 8, 0.44, 5 × 10-3 and 1 × 10-3 kg s-1 for H2O, CO2, HCl, CO and H2 respectively. Although H2S was detected, its concentration could not be resolved. HF was not detected. The chemical signature of the gas from both vents was found to be broadly similar. Following the opening of the 2010 and 2012 vents we found limited to negligible interaction of the magmatic gas with the hydrothermal system has occurred and the gas composition of the volcanic plume is broadly representative of equilibrium with the magma. The time evolution of the gas composition, the continuous emission of large quantities of SO2, and the physical evolution of the summit area with new vent openings and more frequent eruptions all point towards a continuous drying of the hydrothermal system at Turrialba's summit at an apparently increasing rate.

Short summary
In this paper we characterise the flux and composition of the gas emissions from Turrialba Volcano. We show that the measured gas signature provides evidence that Turrialba Volcano has entered an open-vent configuration with magmatic gases being emitted. This suggests that the hydrothermal system at the summit is quickly drying up and that the system is moving from a hydrothermal to a magmatic end member with implications for short-term monitoring and possible evolution of the state of unrest.