Volcanic Lakes pp 261-288 | Cite as

Molten Sulfur Lakes of Intraoceanic Arc Volcanoes

  • C. E. J. de RondeEmail author
  • W. W. ChadwickJr
  • R. G. Ditchburn
  • R. W. Embley
  • V. Tunnicliffe
  • E. T. Baker
  • S. L. Walker
  • V. L. Ferrini
  • S. M. Merle
Part of the Advances in Volcanology book series (VOLCAN)


Intraoceanic arcs of the world are dominated by submarine volcanoes, many of which host active hydrothermal systems. A considerable number of the morphological features common to subaerial volcanoes are also present on the submarine edifices, including summit craters. Surprisingly, some of the craters, such as at Daikoku and Nikko volcanoes of the Mariana Arc, and Macauley Cone of the Kermadec Arc, are host to lakes of molten sulfur, both ancient and modern. These lakes, up to ~200 m in diameter, act as condensers of gases that derive from the underlying magmas. Volcanic vents beneath these lakes provide a steady outflow of hot gases that continuously generate molten sulfur. At Daikoku, an extraordinary lake of liquid sulfur is in constant convective and gas escape-driven motion. Smaller pools of molten sulfur occur on Nikko, and there is evidence of older, larger lakes on both this volcano and Macauley, based on the accumulation of large quantities of sulfur in the subsurface. The elemental S at these sites is produced largely by the reaction 2H2S + SO2 = 3S + 2H2O and the disproportionation of magmatic SO2. Anomalous concentrations of Au and Cu in the lakes are most likely transported by vapor.


Intraoceanic arc volcanoes Submarine crater lakes Daikoku Nikko Macauley cone Elemental sulfur Trace elements Sulfur isotopes 



This paper was written while C de R was on sabbatical at NOAA/PMEL. A.G. Reyes, R.J. Stern and R.W. Henley are thanked for their discussion on volcanic lakes, sulfur, and magmas. K. Nakamura commented on an earlier draft of this paper. Reviews bv R.J. Arculus, D. Rouwet, and B.W. Christenson improved this contribution. The captain and crew of the research tender vessels R/V Thompson (2004), R/V Kaimikai-o-Kanaloa (2005) and R/V Melville (2006), and the ROV (ROPOS and Jason II) pilots and engineers, are thanked for careful and safe operations while at sea. Funding for C de R was from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) contract #C05X0406. Funding for the Submarine Ring of Fire expeditions was from the NOAA Ocean Exploration and NOAA Vents Programs. This is PMEL contribution #3942.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. E. J. de Ronde
    • 1
    Email author
  • W. W. ChadwickJr
    • 2
  • R. G. Ditchburn
    • 1
  • R. W. Embley
    • 3
  • V. Tunnicliffe
    • 4
  • E. T. Baker
    • 5
  • S. L. Walker
    • 5
  • V. L. Ferrini
    • 6
  • S. M. Merle
    • 2
  1. 1.GNS ScienceLower HuttNew Zealand
  2. 2.CIMRSOregon State UniversityNewportUSA
  3. 3.NOAA/PMELNewportUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biology/School of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  5. 5.Pacific Marine Environmental LaboratoryNOAASeattleUSA
  6. 6.Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryMarine Geology and GeophysicsPalisadesUSA

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