Research ArticleGEOCHEMISTRY

Correlation between tectonic CO2 Earth degassing and seismicity is revealed by a 10-year record in the Apennines, Italy

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Science Advances  26 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 35, eabc2938
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc2938


Deep CO2 emissions characterize many nonvolcanic, seismically active regions worldwide, and the involvement of deep CO2 in the earthquake cycle is now generally recognized. However, no long-time records of such emissions have been published, and the temporal relations between earthquake occurrence and tectonic CO2 release remain enigmatic. Here, we report a 10-year record (2009–2018) of tectonic CO2 flux in the Apennines (Italy) during intense seismicity. The gas emission correlates with the evolution of the seismic sequences: Peaks in the deep CO2 flux are observed in periods of high seismicity and decays as the energy and number of earthquakes decrease. We propose that the evolution of seismicity is modulated by the ascent of CO2 accumulated in crustal reservoirs and originating from the melting of subducted carbonates. This large-scale, continuous process of CO2 production favors the formation of overpressurized CO2-rich reservoirs potentially able to trigger earthquakes at crustal depth.

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