Volcanic gas emissions from Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat 1995–2009, with implications for mafic magma supply and degassing



[1] Volcanic gas emissions illustrate a complex volatile budget for Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat. Fluxes of sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen chloride (and probably water) are substantial from this arc volcano. Additional sources of volatiles in addition to the erupting andesite are required to satisfy the mass balance defined by gas emissions and petrological constraints. Mafic magma is intruded at depths of >10 km, supplying volatiles by quenching, crystallising and vesiculating at the andesite-mafic magma interface. Sulphur, carbon dioxide and other volatiles supplied to the system migrate to the surface and their fluxes remain high while mafic recharge at depth is sustained. Decompression degassing of porphyritic andesite supplies chlorine and water to the gas plume. Chlorine partitions into vapour from the melt during periods of active extrusion, making the HCl/SO2 ratio of volcanic gases a reliable indicator of the onset of eruptive activity. Studies of this volatile budget highlight the role of deep degassing and vapour production at arc volcanoes, which are important mechanisms for driving the eruption due to its effects on magma buoyancy and the advection of heat through the system.