Volatile emissions from the crater and flank of Oldoinyo Lengai volcano, Tanzania

K. W. Koepenick, S. L. Brantley, J. M. Thompson, G. L. Rowe, A. A. Nyblade, C. Moshy

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As a comparison to airborne infrared (IR) flux measurements, ground-based sampling of fumarole and soil gases was used to characterize the quiescent degassing of CO2 from Oldoinyo Lengai volcano. Aerial and ground-based measurements are in good agreement: ∼75% of the aerially measured CO2 flux at Lengai (0.05-0.06 × 1012 mol yr-1 or 6000-7200 tonnes CO2 d-1) can be attributed to seven large crater vents. In contrast to Etna and Vulcano Island, where 15-50% of the total CO2 flux emanates diffusely through the volcanic flanks, diffuse emissions were measured only within 500 m of the crater rim at Lengai, contributing < 2% of the total flux. The lack of extensive flank emissions may reflect the dimensions of the magma chamber and/or the lack of a shallow fluid flow system. Thermodynamic restoration of fumarole analyses shows that gases are the most CO2-rich and H2O-poor reported for any volcano, containing 64-74% CO2, 24-34% H2O, 0.88-1.0% H2, 0.1-0.4% CO and < 0.1% H2S, HCl, HF, and CH4. Volatile emissions of S, Cl, and F at Oldoiyno Lengai are estimated as 4.5, 1.5, and 1.0 × 107 mol yr-1, respectively. Accuracy of the airborne technique was also assessed by measuring the C emission rate from a coal-burning power plant. CO2 fluxes were measured within ±10% near the plant; however, poor resolution at increased distances caused an underestimation of the flux by a factor of 2. The relatively large CO2 fluxes measured for alkaline volcanoes such as Oldoinyo Lengai or Etna may indicate that midplate volcanoes represent a large, yet relatively unknown, natural source of CO2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13819-13830
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 10 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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