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Vapour-phase crystallisation of silica from SiF4-bearing volcanic gases

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Author(s): J. C. M. De Hoog | M. J. Van Bergen | M. H. G. Jacobs

Journal: Annals of Geophysics
ISSN 1593-5213

Volume: 48;
Issue: 4-5;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: SiF4 | vapour crystallisation | silica | degassing

ABSTRACT
Thermodynamic modelling of magmatic gases shows that SiF4 may be an important F-bearing species at the high pressures typical of magma reservoirs. Upon decompression during degassing, SiF4 will react with water vapour to form HF and silica. Common magmatic gases of high-T fumaroles seem to contain too little SiF4 to be a significant source of silica, except if extremely large amounts of gas percolate through a small volume of rock, as is the case in lava domes. Only if fluorine contents of the gases exceed 1 mol% detectable amounts of silica may be formed, but such high fluorine contents have not yet been observed in natural gases. Alternatively, silica may be formed by heating of cool SiF4-rich gases circulating in cooling lava bodies. We suggest that these mechanisms may be responsible for the deposition of crystalline silica, most probably cristobalite, observed in vesicles in lavas from Lewotolo volcano (Eastern Sunda Arc, Indonesia). Silica occurs as vapour-crystallised patches in vesicles, and is sometimes associated with F-phlogopite, which further supports F-rich conditions during deposition. Because of the connection between F-rich conditions and high-K volcanism, we propose that late-stage gaseous transport and deposition of silica may be more widespread in K-rich volcanoes than elsewhere, and long-term exposure to ash from eruptions of such volcanoes could therefore carry an increased risk for respiratory diseases. The dependence of SiF4/HF on temperature reported here differs from the current calibration used for temperature measurements of fumarolic gases by remote sensing techniques, and we suggest an updated calibration.
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