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Volcanic sulfate aerosol formation in the troposphere

Erwan Martin 1, * Slimane Bekki 2 Charlotte Ninin 1 Ilya Bindeman 3
* Corresponding author
2 STRATO - LATMOS
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : The isotopic composition of volcanic sulfate provides insights into the atmospheric chemical processing of volcanic plumes. First, mass-independent isotopic anomalies quantified by Δ17O and to a lesser extent Δ33S and Δ36S in sulfate depend on the relative importance of different oxidation mechanisms that generate sulfate aerosols. Second, the isotopic composition of sulfate (δ34S and δ18O) could be an indicator of fractionation (distillation/condensation) processes occurring in volcanic plumes. Here we present analyses of O-and S isotopic compositions of volcanic sulfate absorbed on very fresh volcanic ash from nine moderate historical eruptions in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of our volcanic sulfate samples, which are thought to have been generated in the troposphere or in the tropopause region, do not exhibit any significant mass-independent fractionation (MIF) isotopic anomalies, apart from those from an eruption of a Mexican volcano. Coupled to simple chemistry model calculations representative of the background atmosphere, our data set suggests that although H2O2 (a MIF-carrying oxidant) is thought to be by far the most efficient sulfur oxidant in the background atmosphere, it is probably quickly consumed in large dense tropospheric volcanic plumes. We estimate that in the troposphere, at least, more than 90% of volcanic secondary sulfate is not generated by MIF processes. Volcanic S-bearing gases, mostly SO2, appear to be oxidized through channels that do not generate significant isotopically mass-independent sulfate, possibly via OH in the gas phase and/or transition metal ion catalysis in the aqueous phase. It is also likely that some of the sulfates sampled were not entirely produced by atmospheric oxidation processes but came out directly from volcanoes without any MIF anomalies.
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Erwan Martin, Slimane Bekki, Charlotte Ninin, Ilya Bindeman. Volcanic sulfate aerosol formation in the troposphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, American Geophysical Union, 2014, 119 (22), pp.12,660-12,673. ⟨10.1002/2014JD021915⟩. ⟨hal-01103142⟩

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