High fluxes of deep volatiles from ocean island volcanoes: Insights from El Hierro, Canary Islands

Zoltán Taracsák, Margaret Hartley, Raymond Burgess, M. Edmonds, F. Iddon, M-A. Longpre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Basaltic volcanism contributes significant fluxes of volatiles (CO2, H2O, S, F, Cl) to the Earth’s surface environment. Quantifying volatile fluxes requires initial melt volatile concentrations to be determined, which can be accessed through crystal-hosted melt inclusions. However, melt inclusions in volatile-rich mafic alkaline basalts, such as those erupted at ocean islands, often trap partially degassed melts, meaning that magmatic volatile fluxes from these tectonic settings are often significantly underestimated. We have measured major, trace element and volatile concentrations in melt inclusions from a series of young (<20 ka) basanites from El Hierro, Canary Islands. Our melt inclusions show some of the highest CO2 (up to 3600 ppm) and S (up to 4290 ppm) concentrations measured in ocean island basalts to date, in agreement with data from the recent 2011-2012 eruption. Volatile enrichment is observed in melt inclusions with crystallisation-controlled major element compositions and highly variable trace element ratios such as La/Yb. We use volatile-trace element ratios to calculate original magmatic CO2 contents up to 4.2 wt%, which indicates at least 65% of the original CO2 was degassed prior to melt inclusiontrapping. The trace element contents and ratios of El Hierro magmas are best reproduced by 1-8% partial melting of a garnet lherzolite mantle source. Our projected CO2 (200- 680 ppm) and S (265-450 ppm) concentrations for the source are consistent with upper estimates for primitive mantle. However, El Hierro magmas have elevated F/Nd and F/Cl in comparison with melts from a primitive mantle, indicating that the mantle must also contain a component enriched in F and other volatiles, most probably recycled oceanic lithosphere. Our modelled original magmatic CO2 contents indicates that, per mass unit, volatile fluxes from El Hierro magmas are up to two orders of magnitude greater than from typical mid-ocean ridge basalts and 1.5 to 7 times greater than from recent Icelandic eruptions, indicating large variability in the primary volatile content of magmas formed in different geodynamic settings, or even within different ocean islands. Our results highlight the importance of characterising mantle heterogeneity in order to accurately constrain both short- and long-term magmatic volatile emissions and fluxes from ocean island volcanoes.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number19-36
    Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2019


    • melt inclusions
    • volatiles
    • CO2
    • degassing
    • volatile recycling
    • El Hierro
    • Canary Islands


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