Exceptionally low mercury concentrations and fluxes from the 2021 and 2022 eruptions of Fagradalsfjall volcano, Iceland

Edwards BA, Pfeffer MA, Ilyinskaya E, Kleine-Marshall B, Mandon CL, Cotterill A, Aiuppa A, Outridge PM, Wang F (2024)


Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2024

Journal

Book Volume: 917

Article Number: 170457

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.170457

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) is naturally released by volcanoes and geothermal systems, but the global flux from these natural sources is highly uncertain due to a lack of direct measurements and uncertainties with upscaling Hg/SO2 mass ratios to estimate Hg fluxes. The 2021 and 2022 eruptions of Fagradalsfjall volcano, southwest Iceland, provided an opportunity to measure Hg concentrations and fluxes from a hotspot/rift system using modern analytical techniques. We measured gaseous Hg and SO2 concentrations in the volcanic plume by near-source drone-based sampling and simultaneous downwind ground-based sampling. Mean Hg/SO2 was an order of magnitude higher at the downwind locations relative to near-source data. This was attributed to the elevated local background Hg at ground level (4.0 ng m−3) likely due to emissions from outgassing lava fields. The background-corrected plume Hg/SO2 mass ratio (5.6 × 10−8) therefore appeared conservative from the near-source to several hundred meters distant, which has important implications for the upscaling of volcanic Hg fluxes based on SO2 measurements. Using this ratio and the total SO2 flux from both eruptions, we estimate the total mass of gaseous Hg released from the 2021 and 2022 Fagradalsfjall eruptions was 46 ± 33 kg, equivalent to a flux of 0.23 ± 0.17 kg d−1. This is the lowest Hg flux estimate in the literature for active open-conduit volcanoes, which range from 0.6 to 12 kg d−1 for other hotspot/rift volcanoes, and 0.5–110 kg d−1 for arc volcanoes. Our results suggest that Icelandic volcanic systems are fed from an especially Hg-poor mantle. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the aerial near-source plume Hg measurement is feasible with a drone-based active sampling configuration that captures all gaseous and particulate Hg species, and recommend this as the preferred method for quantifying volcanic Hg emissions going forward.

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APA:

Edwards, B.A., Pfeffer, M.A., Ilyinskaya, E., Kleine-Marshall, B., Mandon, C.L., Cotterill, A.,... Wang, F. (2024). Exceptionally low mercury concentrations and fluxes from the 2021 and 2022 eruptions of Fagradalsfjall volcano, Iceland. Science of the Total Environment, 917. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.170457

MLA:

Edwards, Brock A., et al. "Exceptionally low mercury concentrations and fluxes from the 2021 and 2022 eruptions of Fagradalsfjall volcano, Iceland." Science of the Total Environment 917 (2024).

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