Between 1992 and 1998, we sampled gas discharges from ≤173°C fumaroles and springs at 12 quiescent but potentially restless volcanoes in the Cascade Range and Aleutian Arc (CRAA) including Mount Shasta, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Augustine Volcano, Mount Griggs, Trident, Mount Mageik, Aniakchak Crater, Akutan, and Makushin. For each site, we collected and analyzed samples to characterize the chemical (H2O, CO2, H2S, N2, CH4, H2, HCl, HF, NH3, Ar, O2, He) and isotopic (δ13C of CO2, 3He/4He, 40Ar/36Ar, δ34S, δ13C of CH4, δ15N, and δD and δ18O of water) compositions of the gas discharges, and to create baseline data for comparison during future unrest. The chemical and isotopic data show that these gases contain a magmatic component that is heavily modified from scrubbing by deep hydrothermal (150° - 350°C) water (primary scrubbing) and shallow meteoric water (secondary scrubbing). The impact of scrubbing is most pronounced in gas discharges from bubbling springs; gases from boiling-point fumaroles and superheated vents show progressively less impact from scrubbing. The most effective strategies for detecting gas precursors to future CRAA eruptions are to measure periodically the emission rates of CO2 and SO2, which have low and high respective solubilities in water, and to monitor continuously CO2 concentrations in soils around volcanic vents. Timely resampling of fumaroles can augment the geochemical surveillance program by watching for chemical changes associated with drying of fumarolic pathways (all CRAA sites), increases in gas geothermometry temperatures (Mount Mageik, Trident, Mount Baker, Mount Shasta), changes in δ13C of CO2 affiliated with magma movement (all CRAA site), and increases in 3He/4He coupled with intrusion of new magma (Mount Rainier, Augustine Volcano, Makushin, Mount Shasta). Repose magmatic degassing may discharge substantial amounts of S and Cl into the edifices of Mount Baker and several other CRAA volcanoes that is trapped by primary and secondary scrubbing. The consequent acidic fluids produce ongoing alteration in the 0.2- to 3-km-deep hydrothermal systems and in fields of boiling-point fumaroles near the surface. Such alteration may influence edifice stability and contribute to the formation of more-hazardous cohesive debris flows. In particular, we recommend further investigation of the volume, extent, and hazards of hydrothermal alteration at Mount Baker. Other potential hazards associated with the CRAA volcano hydrothermal systems include hydrothermal eruptions and, for deeper systems intruded by magma, deep-seated edifice collapse.
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USGS Numbered Series
Scrubbing masks magmatic degassing during repose at Cascade-Range and Aleutian-Arc volcanoes