Petrologic Evidence of Volatile Emissions from Major Historic and Pre-Historic Volcanic Eruptions

  1. A. Berger,
  2. R. E. Dickinson and
  3. John W. Kidson
  1. Julie M. Palais and
  2. Haraldur Sigurdsson

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM052p0031

Understanding Climate Change

Understanding Climate Change

How to Cite

Palais, J. M. and Sigurdsson, H. (1989) Petrologic Evidence of Volatile Emissions from Major Historic and Pre-Historic Volcanic Eruptions, in Understanding Climate Change (eds A. Berger, R. E. Dickinson and J. W. Kidson), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM052p0031

Author Information

  1. Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I. 02881

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875904573

Online ISBN: 9781118666517



  • Climate changes—Congresses


Estimates of volcanic volatile composition and mass release of sulfur, chlorine and fluorine to the atmosphere from twelve large Recent and Quaternary-volcanic eruptions has been made on basis of pre-eruption volatile composition, as determined by electron microprobe in glass inclusions trapped in phenocrysts in tephra. These estimates extend our knowledge of atmospheric loading by volcanic gases to include events more than two orders of magnitude larger than recent eruptions observed with modern methods. Results for several events agree well with other independent estimates, based on ice cores and atmospheric studies. The results show that yield of sulfur, chlorine and fluorine to the atmosphere is not only dependent on total erupted mass, but largely determined by the composition of the erupting magmas. Thus volcanic volatile yield from high-silica or rhyolitic explosive eruptions is one or two orders of magnitude lower than during eruption of equal mass of basaltic or trachytic magmas. Sulfur yield during individual events is up to 3×1013 g, Such as in the case of the basaltic fissure eruptions of Laki and Eldgja in Iceland. However, in certain trachytic eruptions the yield of halogens may exceed sulfur output, such as during the great 1815 Tambora eruption in Indonesia, when chlorine and fluorine yield to the atmosphere is estimated as 2×1014 and 1.7×1014g, respectively. Petrologic estimates of sulfur yield correlate closely with northern hemisphere annual temperature anomalies observed following the eruptions, in agreement with the findings of Devine et al. [1984] on a smaller data base.