Particulate potassium compounds in Mt Etna emissions can be associated with two mechanisms of formation: (a) at magmatic vents, potassium compounds generally result from condensation of primary gaseous compounds and (b) in fumarolic areas wall-rock erosion is the main source. Bulk filtration samples were collected on Mt Etna Volcano between the 16 and 23 March 1983, and on the March 28 1983 additional samples were collected above active vents. Analyses of particulates containing Al, Si, S, Cl, K and Zn suggest a simple model of origin for these elements during the 1983 pre-eruptive period. The results also show that, about ten days before the eruption, volatile potassium compounds in the plume of the summit crater decreased abruptly. From these data, we suggest that monitoring of potassium-bearing particulates could be used to determine the character of the volcanic emissions. © 1988.
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