Increase in Dissolved Silica of Rivers Due to a Volcanic Eruption in an Estuarine Bay (Sorsogon Bay, Philippines)
Mount Bulusan, the Philippines’ fourth most active volcano, erupted in February 21, 2011, sending volcanic ash and pyroclastic materials to its surrounding rivers. The waters drained into the estuary of harmful algal blooms plagued Sorsogon Bay. We aim to determine the impact of the 2011 volcanic eruption and the preceding volcanic ash emissions to the dissolved silica concentration of rivers draining the flanks of Mt. Bulusan and its possible implications to the phytoplankton assemblage of the bay. Six river water sampling periods from August 2010 to October 2012 overlapped with Mt. Bulusan’s active phase of volcanism. Our data shows that mean river silica from pre-eruption levels of ~ 500 μM increased by more than 200% during and post-eruption. Highest Si concentration of 2270 μM was measured from Cadacan River in August 2011. Here, we argue that the sustained general increase of dissolved silica is due to the silica-containing materials from Mt. Bulusan’s eruption and that their concentration in river waters is also a function of watershed lithology and precipitation. Increase in dissolved silica and other nutrients caused a shift to diatom domination and, possibly, termination of Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum blooms. Silica load increase in embayments is a natural process that controls the dominance of algae. Our study also highlights the importance of Philippine rivers to the global ocean silica budget as a function of high precipitation, tectonics in general, and volcanism in particular.
KeywordsSilicic acid Dissolved silica Harmful algal blooms Mt. Bulusan eruption Phytoplankton assemblage change Sorsogon Bay
The authors would like to thank Aletta Yñiguez and Rhodora Azanza for their support to this research. The authors would also like to thank Caroline Jaraula and Gil Jacinto for their comments on the earliest draft of this manuscript.
This work was funded by the former Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development and the current Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology, Philippines.
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