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Authors: D'Alessandro, W.* 
Bellomo, S.* 
Brusca, L.* 
Longo, M.* 
Martelli, M.* 
Pecoraino, G.* 
Title: Methane fluxes from the soils in active volcanic areas: the case of Pantelleria Island (Italy)
Issue Date: Jun-2009
Keywords: soil gases
methane output
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.12. Fluid Geochemistry 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.01. Gases 
Abstract: Methane, the most abundant hydrocarbon in the atmosphere, plays an important role in the Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and radiative balance being the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2. Methane is released to the atmosphere by a wide number of sources, both natural and anthropogenic, with the latter being twice as large as the former (Kvenvolden and Rogers, 2005). It has recently been established that significant amounts of geological methane, produced within the Earth’s crust, are currently released naturally into the atmosphere (Etiope, 2004). Among natural sources the volcanic/geothermal emissions are probably the least constrained. Recent estimations for volcanic and geothermal systems in Europe (Etiope et al. 2007) gave a rather large provisional range (4-16 kt/a) that claims for much more field measurements in order to widen the current database and decrease the present uncertainties. Pantelleria is an active volcanic complex, at present in quiescent status, hosting a high enthalpy geothermal system. Explorative geothermal wells tapped an exploitable water-dominated reservoir at 600-800 m depth with maximum measured temperatures of 250 °C. While some data are available on diffuse CO2 fluxes, data on CH4 are available only for fumarolic fluids. In the present study we measured CH4 fluxes in the area of Favara Grande characterized by intense diffuse degassing and widespread signs of geothermal activity (fumaroles, steaming grounds and large zones devoid of vegetation). Values range from negative (-43 to 0 mgCH4 m2 day), typical of soils with methanotrophic activity, up to 3500 mgCH4 m2 day in the most thermalized area. The preliminary estimate of the methane release from the area of Favara Grande is about 2.5 t/a. Extrapolation to the whole volcanic/geothermal system of Pantelleria gives about 10 t/a.
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