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Authors: Calabrese, S.* 
D'Alessandro, W.* 
Milazzo, S.* 
Bellomo, S.* 
Brusca, L.* 
Parello, F.* 
Title: The use of moss-bags technique for volcanic aerosols investigation on Mt. Etna (Italy)
Issue Date: 1-Jun-2014
Publisher: ProScience
DOI: 10.14644/dust.2014.019
Keywords: trace elements
volcanic emissions
atmospheric deposition
Subject Classification01. Atmosphere::01.01. Atmosphere::01.01.07. Volcanic effects 
01. Atmosphere::01.01. Atmosphere::01.01.08. Instruments and techniques 
Abstract: Explosive eruptions and volcanic passive degassing inject large quantities of gas and particles into the atmosphere that are ultimately deposited at the Earth’s surface through wet or dry deposition processes, affecting the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere. Mount Etna (Italy) is one of the most prodigious and persistent sources of gases and particles to the troposphere. Volcanic emissions were studied at Etna volcano by using moss-bags technique. Mosses (Sphagnum species) were exposed around the volcano at different distances from the active vents to evaluate the impact of its emissions into the atmosphere and in the local surrounding. The results confirmed the huge amount of silicates, sulfates and halides compounds emitted into the atmosphere from Mount Etna. X-ray microanalysis showed that chemical composition of the particles is mostly defined by silicate (from pure silica to metal-rich silicate composition) and sulfate/halide compounds. The contents of major and trace elements in the Sphagnum moss-bags significantly increased after their exposure to volcanic emissions, confirming mosses as efficient accumulators. Metals uptake rate rapidly decreases with the distance from the volcanic emission vents. The elements that showed the greatest accumulation after exposition were S, Na, Fe, Al, Cu, V, As, Cd, Li, Se, Sc, Th, Bi and Tl. This study confirmed the marked environmental impact of volcanic emissions in the eastern sector of Etna, leading to an intense “geochemical anomaly” of volatile major and trace elements due to the fumigation by the volcanic plume, in agreement with passive biomonitoring studies reported by previous authors. Finally, moss-bags techniques provide a cheap and efficient method to investigate quantitatively in space and time the environmental impact of volcanogenic atmospheric deposition.
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