Gas measurements from the Costa Rica-Nicaragua volcanic segment suggest possible along-arc variations in volcanic gas chemistry
Journal article, 2014

Obtaining accurate estimates of the CO2 output from arc volcanism requires a precise understanding of the potential along-arc variations in volcanic gas chemistry, and ultimately of the magmatic gas signature of each individual arc segment. In an attempt to more fully constrain the magmatic gas signature of the Central America Volcanic Arc (CAVA), we present here the results of a volcanic gas survey performed during March and April 2013 at five degassing volcanoes within the Costa Rica-Nicaragua volcanic segment (CNVS). Observations of the volcanic gas plume made with a multicomponent gas analyzer system (Multi-GAS) have allowed characterization of the CO2/SO2-ratio signature of the plumes at Pads (0.30 +/- 0.06, mean +/- SD), Rincon de la Vieja (27.0 +/- 15.3), and Turrialba (2.2 +/- 0.8) in Costa Rica, and at Telica (3.0 +/- 0.9) and San Cristobal (4.2 +/- 1.3) in Nicaragua (all ratios on molar basis). By scaling these plume compositions to simultaneously measured SO2 fluxes, we estimate that the CO2 outputs at CNVS volcanoes range from low (25.5 +/- 11.0 tons/day at Pods) to moderate (918 to 1270 tons/day at Turrialba). These results add a new information to the still fragmentary volcanic CO2 output data set, and allow estimating the total CO2 output from the CNVS at 2835 1364 tons/day. Our novel results, with previously available information about gas emissions in Central America, are suggestive of distinct volcanic gas CO2/S-T (= SO2 + H2S)-ratio signature for magmatic volatiles in Nicaragua (similar to 3) relative to Costa Rica (similar to 0.5-1.0). We also provide additional evidence for the earlier theory relating the CO2-richer signature of Nicaragua volcanism to increased contributions from slab-derived fluids, relative to more-MORB-like volcanism in Costa Rica. The sizeable along-arc variations in magmatic gas chemistry that the present study has suggested indicate that additional gas observations are urgently needed to more-precisely confine the volcanic CO2 from the CAVA, and from global arc volcanism.


CAVA Costa Rica

arc volcanism

CO2 flux

volcanic gases


A. Aiuppa

University of Palermo

P. Robidoux

University of Palermo

G. Tamburello

University of Palermo

Alexander Vladimir Conde Jacobo

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Optical Remote Sensing

Bo Galle

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Optical Remote Sensing

G. Avard

National University Costa Rica

E. Bagnato

University of Palermo

J. M. De Moor

National University Costa Rica

M. Martinez

National University Costa Rica

A. Munoz

Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales

Earth and Planetary Science Letters

0012-821X (ISSN) 1385-013X (eISSN)

Vol. 407 134-147

Subject Categories

Earth and Related Environmental Sciences



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