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Authors: Sortino, Francesco* 
Giammanco, Salvatore* 
Bonfanti, Pietro* 
Bottari, Carla* 
Title: Stress-induced changes in hydrothermal gas discharges along active faults near Mt. Etna volcano (Sicily, Italy)
Journal: Tectonophysics 
Series/Report no.: /836 (2022)
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2022.229388
Keywords: Earthquakes
Volcanic activity
Geothermal systems
Abstract: Near-continuous monitoring both of gas emissions (CO2, CH4 and H2S) and of water temperature at Santa Venera al Pozzo thermal springs (SE foot of Mt. Etna volcano, Sicily, Italy) was conducted from December 2017 to April 2019, using a novel and cheaper Chromatography Monitoring System (CMS) coupled with a water temperature sensor. The results showed methane as predominant gas and temporal changes in gas concentrations that were in part due to daily fluctuations, which caused small amplitude variations, and in part due to non-environmental causes. These latter were correlated with the occurrence of strong earthquakes and slow tectonic events related to magmatic intrusions, but not with input of magmatic gases into the thermal aquifer, given the nonmagmatic origin of all monitored gases. Methane spikes were observed during many volcano-tectonic events and call for a deep source of this gas. H2S was detected only during the strongest local tectonic events, including a Mw 4.9 earthquake, suggesting that this gas has a common origin as CH4 (i.e., mixing between microbial and thermogenic gas), but it is released only when tectonic stress is applied for sufficiently long periods as to cause H2S oversaturation in the hydrothermal aquifer. Water temperature decreases were also observed immediately after the two strongest earthquakes in the area, which helped us produce a comprehensive model to explain the observed geochemical variations. Our approach allowed revealing the great sensitivity of gases such as CH4 and especially H2S to tectonic stress, thus making them valuable indicators of impending strong tectonic or volcanotectonic events.
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