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Authors: Chiodini, G.* 
Caliro, S.* 
Cardellini, C.* 
Avino, A.* 
Granieri, D.* 
Schmidt, A.* 
Title: Carbon isotopic composition of soil CO2 efflux, a powerful method to discriminate different sources feeding soil CO2 degassing in volcanic-hydrothermal areas
Issue Date: 2008
Series/Report no.: /274(2008)
DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2008.07.051
Keywords: CO2 soil degassing
CO2 flux
carbon dioxide
carbon isotopes
Subject Classification03. Hydrosphere::03.04. Chemical and biological::03.04.05. Gases 
03. Hydrosphere::03.04. Chemical and biological::03.04.06. Hydrothermal systems 
04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.12. Fluid Geochemistry 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.01. Gases 
Abstract: A new method combining measurements of soil CO2 flux and determinations of the carbon isotopic composition of soil CO2 efflux was developed in order to qualitatively and quantitatively characterise the CO2 source feeding the soil CO2 diffuse degassing. The method was tested in March 2007 at the Solfatara of Pozzuoli volcano degassing area (Naples, Italy) where more than 300 measurements of soil CO2 flux and determinations of the carbon isotopic composition of soil CO2 efflux were performed, surveying Solfatara crater and its surroundings. The wide range of CO2 flux and CO2 isotopic composition values (from 8.4 g m−2 d−1 to 28,834 g m−2 d−1, and from 0.73‰ to −33.54‰, respectively), together with their statistical distributions suggests the occurrence of multiple CO2 sources feeding soil degassing. The combined interpretation of flux and isotopic data allows us to identify and characterise two distinct gas sources: a hydrothermal and a biogenic source. The soil CO2 from the hydrothermal source is characterised by a mean δ13CCO2 of −2.3‰±0.9‰, hence close to the isotopic composition of the fumarolic CO2 (δ13CCO2=−1.48‰± 0.22‰) and by a mean CO2 flux of 2875 g m−2 d−1. The CO2 from the biogenic source is characterised by a mean δ13CCO2 of −19.4‰±2.1‰, and by a mean CO2 flux of 26 g m−2 d−1, which are both in the range of the typical values for biologic CO2 soil degassing. This reliable characterisation of the biogenic CO2 flux would not have been possible by solely applying a statistical analysis of the CO2 flux values, which is commonly applied in volcanological studies for the partitioning between background fluxes and anomalous CO2 fluxes. A map of the Solfatara diffuse degassing structure was derived from the estimated threshold for the biogenic CO2 flux, highlighting that soil degassing of hydrothermal CO2 mixed in different proportion with biogenic CO2 occurs over a large area (~0.8 km2), which extends over the inner part of the Solfatara crater as well as the eastern periphery, corresponding with a NW–SE fault system. The presented method and data analysis are important means of surveillance of the volcanic activity.
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