Iridium Enrichment in Airborne Particles from Kilauea Volcano: January 1983

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Science  09 Dec 1983:
Vol. 222, Issue 4628, pp. 1118-1121
DOI: 10.1126/science.222.4628.1118


Airborne particulate matter from the January 1983 eruption of Kilauea volcano was inadvertently collected on air filters at Mauna Loa Observatory at a sampling station used to observe particles in global circulation. Analyses of affected samples revealed unusually large concentrations of selenium, arsenic, indium, gold, and sulfur, as expected for volcanic emissions. Strikingly large concentrations of iridium were also observed, the ratio of iridium to aluminum being 17,000 times its value in Hawaiian basalt. Since iridium enrichments have not previously been observed in volcanic emissions, the results for Kilauea suggest that it is part of an unusual volcanic system which may be fed by magma from the mantle. The iridium enrichment appears to be linked with the high fluorine content of the volcanic gases, which suggests that the iridium is released as a volatile IrF6.

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