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CO2 and He degassing at El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico: gas flux, origin and relationship with local and regional tectonics


During 2007–2008, three CO2 flux surveys were performed on El Chichón volcanic lake, Chiapas, Mexico, with an additional survey in April 2008 covering the entire crater floor (including the lake). The mean CO2 flux calculated by sequential Gaussian simulation from the lake was 1,190 (March 2007), 730 (December 2007) and 1,134 g m−2 day−1 (April 2008) with total emission rates of 164 ± 9.5 (March 2007), 59 ± 2.5 (December 2007) and 109 ± 6.6 t day−1 (April 2008). The mean CO2 flux estimated from the entire crater floor area was 1,102 g m−2 day−1 for April 2008 with a total emission rate of 144 ± 5.9 t day−1. Significant change in CO2 flux was not detected during the period of survey, and the mapping of the CO2 flux highlighted lineaments reflecting the main local and regional tectonic patterns. The 3He/4He ratio (as high as 8.1 R A) for gases in the El Chichón crater is generally higher than those observed at the neighbouring Transmexican Volcanic Belt and the Central American Volcanic Arc. The CO2/3He ratios for the high 3He/4He gases tend to have the MORB-like values (1.41 × 109), and the CO2/3He ratios for the lower 3He/4He gases fall within the range for the arc-type gases. The high 3He/4He ratios, the MORB-like CO2/3He ratios for the high 3He/4He gases and high proportion of MORB-CO2 (M = 25 ±15%) at El Chichón indicate a greater depth for the generation of magma when compared to typical arc volcanoes.

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We are thankful to INGV-Palermo laboratory staff for gas analyses, F. Sánchez and family for logistic support in the field and L. Peiffer, R. Bernard, M. Iorio, D. Polgovsky, J.A. Santiago, A. Bernard, M. Jutzeler, M. Cassidy, T. Hernández, G. Valdéz, J. Hansen and S. Karl for field assistance. A portion of this work was funded by the Geologic Hazards and Society Programme of the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (GHS-FRST) C05X0804 in New Zealand. We thank H. Shinohara for insightful editorial handling of this manuscript and F. Tassi and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Agnes Mazot.

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This paper constitutes part of a special issue. The complete citation information is as follows:

Mazot A, Rouwet D, Taran Y, Inguaggiato S, Varley N (2011) CO2 and He degassing at El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico: gas flux, origin and relationship with local and regional tectonics. In: Inguaggiato S, Shinohara H, and Fischer T (eds) Geochemistry of volcanic fluids: a special issue in honor of Yuri A. Taran. Bull Volcanol 73(4):423–442

Editorial responsibility: H. Shinohara

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Mazot, A., Rouwet, D., Taran, Y. et al. CO2 and He degassing at El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico: gas flux, origin and relationship with local and regional tectonics. Bull Volcanol 73, 423–441 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-010-0443-y

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  • El Chichón
  • CO2 flux
  • Crater lake
  • Gas geochemistry
  • He–C isotopes
  • Fumarolic and bubbling gases
  • Tectonics