A new look at the volatile output from large flood basalt eruptions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Earth Sciences


The eruption of flood basalt provinces such as the end-Permian Siberian Traps have been linked to significant perturbations of the carbon cycle, global warming, ocean anoxia and large-scale extinctions in the geological past. The carbon output of large flood basalt eruptions is poorly constrained. We propose a proof-of-concept study of gas release from lava flows, tephra and sills of the Siberian Traps. We will use a novel microanalytical study of melt inclusions and fluid bubbles to constrain the volatile budget associated with the magmatism, incorporating gas release not only from lava and unerupted magma but also building on new studies that have indicated a role for a contribution of volatiles from contaminating sediments. These gas fluxes will form key inputs for future improved models of climatic and biotic impact associated with flood basalt events. We anticipate this work will lead to a larger study that will examine the importance of large igneous provinces and modern magmatic volatile budgets in environmental change.


10 25 50
Description We have shown that large basaltic eruptions can assimilate sulphur from sediments, thus enhancing their climate impact. We have used examples from both the British Tertiary igneous province, in Skye, and the Siberian Traps, Russia. We have shown, through both bulk analysis of sediments and magmas, and microanalysis of melt inclusions, that sulfur and halogens are assimilated from country rocks to a significant degree. There are important implications of this process for the total mass of volatiles outgassed during volcanism and their impact on atmospheric chemistry and climate.
Exploitation Route journals, conferences.
Sectors Environment