Chemistry of the crater lake during the 1971-1972 soufriére eruption

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During the 1971-1972 eruption of Soufriére volcano on St. Vincent Island, a lava mass was extruded subaqueously in the crater lake. An investigation of the chemistry of the lake indicates that over 50,000 tons of dissolved solids were taken into solution during the eruption, in addition to 9000 tons of iron precipitated as ferric oxide in syngenetic metalliferous sediments on the crater floor. Leaching of hot disintegrating lava and volcanic glass is the principal source of cations dissolved in the lake (Na, Ca, Mg, Si and K), whereas chlorine and sulfur were introduced during injection of acid volcanic gases from the submerged lava mass. Concentrations of the common cations in the lake are not affected by mineral solubility, except in the case of Fe3+, but rather by the rate of leaching, evaporation, and water-rock reactions. Variations in Cl/Na, total Cl and acidity have aided in identification of distinct fumarolic phases during the eruption, which may correlate with observed increase in frequency of minor volcanic tremors in the crater. Accumulation of ferric oxide in sediments on the crater floor is thought to be due to leaching of ferrous iron at high temperature from the lava mass, followed by oxidation and precipitation of hematite in the cooler lake. © 1977.

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research