Remarkable geochemical changes and degassing at Voui crater lake, Ambae volcano, Vanuatu

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Ambae (also known as Aoba), is a 38 × 16 km2 lozenge-shaped island volcano with a coastal population of around 10 000. At the summit of the volcano is lake Voui - one of the largest active crater lakes worldwide, with 40 × 106 m3 of acidic water perched 1400 m a.s.l. After more than 300 years of dormancy, Ambae volcano reawakened with phreatic eruptions through Voui in 1995, and culminating in a series of surtseyan eruptions in 2005, followed by a rapid and spectacular colour change of the lake from light blue to red in 2006. Integrating lake water chemistry with new measurements of SO2 emissions from the volcano during the 2005-2006 eruptive period helps to explain the unusual and spectacular volcanic activity of Ambae - initially, a degassed magma approached the lake bed and triggered the surtseyan eruption. Depressurization of the conduit facilitated ascent of volatile-rich magma from the deeper plumbing system. The construction of a cone during eruption and the high degassing destabilised the equilibrium of lake stratification leading to a limnic event and subsequently the spectacular colour change. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research