This question was inspired by the question Predicting volcanic eruptions by experimentally proven volatile outgassing observations

Depending on the type of volcano, three types of lava are released by current volcanoes on Earth: basalt, andesite and rhyolite. Given the different compositions of each type of lava are there differences in the ratios of volcanic volatiles $\ce{SO2}$, $\ce{CO2}$ and $\ce{H2O}$ associated with each lava type?

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    $\begingroup$ In the extreme case of carbonatites the volatiles contain a very high level of CO2 and the degassing can have disasterous results, for example Lake Nyos in Cameroon. But I don't have a good reference for the systematics between different magma types. $\endgroup$
    – haresfur
    Feb 16, 2015 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Somewhat related (not a duplicate) earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/2724/… $\endgroup$
    – user889
    Feb 21, 2015 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


I do not have access to the full-text, but the abstract of Giggenbach (1996)[1] suggests that

The variability in the composition of volcanic gases accessible to sampling, therefore, is largely due to shallow processes, such as reequilibration in response to cooling and dilution by meteoric water, and interaction with fluids of associated hydrothermal systems.

The section Gas Compositions and Tectonic Setting in [2], from Oregon State University has quite a nice table showing that the different volcanoes do seem to have different gas compositions, depending on where they are found and consequently what type of tectonic setting they occur in. I am not sure if these variations are actually significant though, not being a vulcanologist.

This is certainly not a complete answer, but it does look like it might not be that easy to use the volatiles as a diagnostic feature. Hope that this helps somewhat....

  1. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-80087-0_7
  2. http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/gas-compositions-and-tectonic-setting
  • $\begingroup$ An informative answer with very good references, thank you $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Mar 3, 2015 at 2:36

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