El Chichón: Composition of Plume Gases and Particles

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Science  02 Dec 1983:
Vol. 222, Issue 4627, pp. 1018-1021
DOI: 10.1126/science.222.4627.1018


Aircraft measurements were made of trace gases, atmospheric particles, and condensed acid volatiles in the plume of El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico, in November 1982. Hydrogen sulfide was the primary gaseous sulfur species in the plume at the time of collection. Concentrations of 28 elements were determined by neutron activation analysis of particulate material from the plume. Rates of trace element emission to the atmosphere for each species were estimated by normlization to the simultaneously determined total sulfur emission rate. The volatile elements sulfur, chlorine, arsenic, selenium, bromine, antimony, iodine, tungsten, and mercury were enriched relative to bulk pyroclastic material by factors of 60 to 20,000. Arsenic, antimony, and selenium were associated predominantly with small (≥ 3 micrometer) particles. Calcium and sodium were present almost exclusively on larger particles and aluminum and manganese were bimodally distributed. Ashladen particulate material injected into the stratosphere during the early violent eruptions was enriched by factors of 10 to 30 relative to ash in some of the same elements observed in the quiescent plume.