Time-dependent CO2 variations in Lake Albano associated with seismic activity

Abstract

Lake Albano (Alban Hills volcanic complex, Central Italy) is located in a densely populated area near Rome. The deep lake waters have significant dissolved CO2 concentrations, probably related to sub-lacustrine fluid discharges fed by a pressurized CO2-rich reservoir. The analytical results of geochemical surveys carried out in 1989–2010 highlight the episodes of CO2 removal from the lake. The total mass of dissolved CO2 decreased from ∼5.8 × 107 kg in 1989 to ∼0.5 × 107 kg in 2010, following an exponential decreasing trend. Calculated values of both dissolved inorganic carbon and CO2 concentrations along the vertical profile of the lake indicate that this decrease is caused by CO2 release from the epilimnion, at depth <9 m, combined with (1) water circulation at depth <95 m and (2) CO2 diffusion from the deeper lake layers. According to this model, Lake Albano was affected by a large CO2 input that coincided with the last important seismic swarm at Alban Hills in 1989, suggesting an intimate relationship between the addition of deep-originated CO2 to the lake and seismic activity. In the case of a CO2 degassing event of an order of magnitude larger than the one that occurred in 1989, the deepest part of Lake Albano would become CO2-saturated, resulting in conditions compatible with the occurrence of a gas outburst. These results reinforce the idea that a sudden CO2 input into the lake may cause the release of a dense gas cloud, presently representing the major volcanic threat for this densely populated area.

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Acknowledgments

This work was partly supported by the Project of Ciudad de la Energia (Spain) and by MIUR/PRIN 2008, 2008S889Y8R Project. C. Cigolini and S. Hurwitz are warmly thanked for the comments and suggestions they provided in an early version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to F. Tassi.

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Chiodini, G., Tassi, F., Caliro, S. et al. Time-dependent CO2 variations in Lake Albano associated with seismic activity. Bull Volcanol 74, 861–871 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-011-0573-x

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Keywords

  • Crater lakes
  • Limnic eruption
  • CO2 outburst
  • Lake Albano