Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The emissions of CO2 and other volatiles from the world’s subaerial volcanoes

December 10, 2019

Volcanoes are the main pathway to the surface for volatiles that are stored within the Earth. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is of particular interest because of its potential for climate forcing. Understanding the balance of CO2 that is transferred from the Earth’s surface to the Earth’s interior, hinges on accurate quantification of the long-term emissions of volcanic CO2 to the atmosphere. Here we present an updated evaluation of the world’s volcanic CO2 emissions that takes advantage of recent improvements in satellite-based monitoring of sulfur dioxide, the establishment of ground-based networks for semi-continuous CO2-SO2 gas sensing and a new approach to estimate key volcanic gas parameters based on magma compositions. Our results reveal a global volcanic CO2 flux of 51.3 ± 5.7 Tg CO2/y (11.7 × 1011 mol CO2/y) for non-eruptive degassing and 1.8 ± 0.9 Tg/y for eruptive degassing during the period from 2005 to 2015. While lower than recent estimates, this global volcanic flux implies that a significant proportion of the surface-derived CO2 subducted into the Earth’s mantle is either stored below the arc crust, is efficiently consumed by microbial activity before entering the deeper parts of the subduction system, or becomes recycled into the deep mantle to potentially form diamonds.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title The emissions of CO2 and other volatiles from the world’s subaerial volcanoes
DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-54682-1
Authors Tobias P. Fischer, Santiago Arellano, Simon Carn, Alessandro Aiuppa, Bo Galle, Patrick Allard, Taryn Lopez, Hiroshi Shinohara, Peter J. Kelly, Cynthia Werner, Carlo Cardelini, Giovanni Chiodini
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70208895
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center