Measurements of a large suite of metals (Pb, Cd, Cu, Zn and several others) and sulfur at Kilauea volcano over an extended period of time has yielded a detailed record of the atmospheric injection of ordinarily-rare metals from this quiescently degassing volcano, representative of an important type. We have combined the Kilauea data with data of recent studies by others (emissions from volcanoes in the Indonesian arc; the large Laki eruption of two centuries ago; Etna: estimates of total volcanic emissions of sulfur) to form the basis for a new working estimate of the rate of worldwide injection of metals to the atmosphere by volcanoes. The new estimate is that volcanoes inject a substantially smaller mass of ordinarily-rare metals into the atmosphere than was stated in a widely cited previous estimate [J.O. Nriagu, A global assessment of natural sources of atmospheric trace metals, Nature 338 (1989) 47-49]. Our estimate, which is an upper limit, is an annual injection mass of about 10,000 tons of the metals considered, versus the earlier estimate of about 23,000 tons. Also, the proportions of the metals are substantially different in our new estimate.
Additional publication details
Metal emissions from Kilauea, and a suggested revision of the estimated worldwide metal output by quiescent degassing of volcanoes