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Authors: Carapezza, M. L.* 
Lelli, M.* 
Tarchini, L.* 
Title: Geochemistry of the Albano and Nemi crater lakes in the volcanic district of Alban Hills (Rome, Italy)
Issue Date: 2007
Keywords: Albano and Nemi crater lakes, geochemical monitoring, water overturn and gas hazard, CO2 diffuse degassing
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.12. Fluid Geochemistry 
Abstract: Lake Albano, located 20 km to the SE of Rome, is hosted within the most recent crater of the quiescent Alban Hills volcanic complex that produced hydromagmatic eruptions in Holocene times. Stratigraphic, archaeological and historical evidence indicates that the lake level underwent important variations in the Bronze Age. Before the IV century B.C. several lahars were generated by water overflows from the lake and in the IV century B.C. Romans excavated a drainage tunnel. The lake is located above a buried carbonate horst that contains a pressurized medium-enthalpy geothermal reservoir from which fluids escape to the surface to produce many important gas manifestations of mostly CO2. Previous studies recognized the presence of gas emissions also from the crater bottom. In 1997 the possibility of a Nyos-type event triggered by a lake rollover was considered very low, because the CO2 water concentration at depth was found to be far from saturation. However, considering the high population density nearby, the Italian Civil Protection Department recommended that periodical monitoring be carried out. To this scope we initiated in 2001 a systematic geochemical study of the lake. Thirteen vertical profiles have been repeatedly carried out in 2001-2006, especially in the deepest part of the lake (167m in 2005), measuring T, pH, dissolved O2 and electrical conductivity. Water samples were collected from various depths and chemically and isotopically analysed. Two similar profiles have been measured also in the nearby Nemi crater lake. Results indicate that in the 4.5 years of monitoring the pressure of gas dissolved in the Lake Albano deep waters remained much lower than the hydrostatic pressure. A CO2 soil survey carried out on the borders of the two lakes, indicates the presence of some zones of anomalous degassing of likely magmatic origin. A water overturn or a heavy mixing of deep and shallow waters likely occurred in winter 2003-2004, when cold rainfall cooled the surface water below 8.5 °C. Such overturns cause only a limited gas exsolution from the lake when the deep water is brought to a few meters depth but can explain the observed decrease with time of dissolved CO2 at depth and related water pH increase. A gas hazard could occur in the case of a sudden injection through the lake bottom of a huge quantity of CO2-rich fluids, which might be caused by earthquake induced fracturing of the rock pile beneath the lake. A limnic gas eruption might also occur should CO2 concentration build up within the lake for a long time.
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