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Colombier, M.; Ukstins, I. A.; Tegtmeier, S.; Scheu, B.; Cronin, S. J.; Thivet, S.; Paredes-Mariño, J.; Cimarelli, C.; Hess, K.-U.; Kula, Taaniela; Latu’ila, Folauhola H.; Dingwell, D. B. (2023): Atmosphere injection of sea salts during large explosive submarine volcanic eruptions. Scientific Reports, 13 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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The 15 January 2022 submarine eruption at Hunga volcano was the most explosive volcanic eruption in 140 years. It involved exceptional magma and seawater interaction throughout the entire submarine caldera collapse. The submarine volcanic jet breached the sea surface and formed a subaerial eruptive plume that transported volcanic ash, gas, sea salts and seawater up to ~ 57 km, reaching into the mesosphere. We document high concentrations of sea salts in tephra (volcanic ash) collected shortly after deposition. We also discuss the potential climatic consequences of large-scale injection of salts into the upper atmosphere during submarine eruptions. Sodium chloride in these volcanic plumes can reach extreme concentrations, and dehalogenation of chlorides and bromides poses the risk of long-term atmospheric and weather impact. Salt content in rapidly collected tephra samples may also be used as a proxy to estimate the water:magma ratio during eruption, with implications for quantification of fragmentation efficiency in submarine breaching events. The balance between salt loading into the atmosphere versus deposition in ash aggregates is a key factor in understanding the atmospheric and climatic consequences of submarine eruptions.

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