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Published May 1991 | Published
Journal Article Open

Degassing history of water, sulfur, and carbon in submarine lavas from Kilauea volcano, Hawaii


Major, minor, and dissolved volatile element concentrations were measured in tholeiitic glasses from the submarine portion (Puna Ridge) of the east rift zone of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. Dissolved H_(2)O and S concentrations display a wide range relative to nonvolatile incompatible elements at all depths. This range cannot be readily explained by fractional crystallization, degassing of H20 and S during eruption on the seafloor, or source region heterogeneities. Dissolved C0_2 concentrations, in contrast, show a positive correlation with eruption depth and typically agree within error with the solubility at that depth. We propose that most magmas along the Puna Ridge result from (I) mixing of a relatively volatile-rich, undegassed component with magmas that experienced low pressure (perhaps subaerial) degassing during which substantial H_(2)O, S, and C0_2 were lost, followed by (2) fractional crystallization of olivine, clinopyroxene, and plagioclase from this mixture to generate a residual liquid; and (3) further degassing, principally of C0_2 for samples erupted deeper than 1000 m, during eruption on the seafloor. The degassed end member may form at upper levels of the summit magma chamber (assuming less than lithostatic pressure gradients), during residence at shallow levels in the crust, or during sustained summit eruptions. The final phase of degassing during eruption on the seafloor occurs slowly enough to achieve melt/vapor equilibrium during exsolution of the typically CO_(2)-rich vapor phase. We predict that average Kilauean primary magmas with 16% MgO contain ~0.47 wt% H_(2)O, ~900 ppm S, and have δD values of ~-30 to -40‰. Our model predicts that submarine lavas from wholly submarine volcanoes (i.e., Loihi), for which there is no opportunity to generate the degassed end member by low pressure degassing, will be enriched in volatiles relative to those from volcanoes whose summits have breached the sea surface (i.e., Kilauea and Mauna Loa).

Additional Information

© 1991 The University of Chicago Press. Manuscript received February 2, 1990; accepted January 8, 1991. We thank Robert Dixon for polishing the glass chips for IR analysis, Walt Friesen for the model data, and Steve Wessells and Walt Friesen for their assistance with the microprobe analyses. Jim Moore kindly allowed us access to his collection of Kilauea dredged lavas, without which the study would not have been possible. We thank Mike Baker for allowing us to use his fractional crystallization program. Jim Moore, Tom Wright, Terry Gerlach, and two anonymous reviewers provided thoughtful reviews of the manuscript. The research at Caltech was performed under NSF grant EAR-8811406. Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Science Contribution Number 4832.

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