About Volgasdec

Volatiles evolution under Deception Island
volcano (Antarctica): Degassing processes and potential hazards – VOLGASDEC

Volatiles are lost from the Earth’s mantle to the atmosphere, hydrosphere and crust through a combination of subaerial and submarine volcanic and magmatic activity. These volatiles can be: (1) primordial in origin, trapped in the mantle since planetary accretion, (2) produced in situ, or (3) recycled and re-injected into the mantle via material originally at the surface through the subduction process. Quantifying the absolute and relative contributions of these various volatile sources bears fundamental information on a number of issues in the Earth Sciences such as the evolution of a particular volcano.

Deception Island (DI), discovered in 1820, is amongst the most active volcanoes in Antarctica with a record of over 20 explosive eruptions in the last two centuries. Located in the South Shetland Islands at the spreading
centre of the Bransfield Strait marginal basin, the island currently hosts two scientific stations operating yearly during the austral summer season and is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Antarctica with over 15,000 visitors per year.

Since future volcanic activity on Deception Island is certain to occur, although the timescale and characteristics of that activity and potential related hazards still remain unclear, it is a valid and pressing cause for concern for tourists, scientists and military personnel visiting or working on or near the island. Important advances have been made in the past by previous research projects carried out by most of the members of the VOLGASDEC team but, at present, the behavior and evolution of volatiles from the source at depth has never been studied.
This in turn is an essential pillar to fully understand how the magma plumbing system beneath the island works. Hence, the lack of knowledge about volatiles releasing at depth in an active volcano in general, and at Deception Island in particular, reduces considerably the effectiveness of scientific teams monitoring the island in order to: (i) interpret and combine geochemical and geophysical data and signals recorded during unrest episodes, and (ii) propose possible outcome scenarios, which may include new eruptions.

This project will finally be able not only to advance in the frontier knowledge volcanic degassing processes, but also offer invaluable benefits for society related to achieving an efficient reaction against a potential future eruption by improving the awareness of the people living, working and visiting this volcanically active region.