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A fumarole (Latin fumus, smoke) is an opening in Earth's (or any other astronomical body's) crust, often in the neighborhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen sulfide. The name solfatara, from the Italian solfo, sulfur (via the Sicilian dialect), is given to fumaroles that emit sulfurous gases.

Fumaroles may occur along tiny cracks or long fissures, in chaotic clusters or fields, and on the surfaces of lava flows and thick deposits of pyroclastic flows. A fumarole field is an area of thermal spring and gas vents where magma or hot igneous rocks at shallow depth are releasing gases or interacting with groundwater. From the perspective of groundwater, fumaroles could be described as a hot spring that boils off all its water before the water reaches the surface.

A good example of fumarole activity on Earth is the famous Valley of Ten Thousand Smokesmarker, which was formed during the 1912 eruption of Novaruptamarker in Alaskamarker. Initially, there were thousands of fumaroles in the cooling ash from the eruption, but over time most of them have become extinct. Fumaroles may persist for decades or centuries if they are above a persistent heat source, or disappear within weeks to months if they occur atop a fresh volcanic deposit that quickly cools. There are also an estimated four thousand fumaroles within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Parkmarker.

Another example is an array of fumaroles in the Valley of Desolation in Morne Trois Pitons National Parkmarker in Dominicamarker.

A Highly Probable Fumarole on Mars

The formation called Home Plate at Gusev Crater, Mars that was examined by the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) named Spirit is highly suspected to be the eroded remains of an ancient and extinct fumarole.

Other Images

Image:Sulpherous Fumeroles.jpg|Sulfurous fumaroles, Whakaari/White Island, New ZealandImage:Sulfur_deposits_near_a_fumarole-750px.jpg|Sulfur deposits near a fumaroleImage:RincónFumarole Apr2003.jpg|Fumarole at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Parkmarker, Costa RicaImage:Baker Fumarole.jpg|Sampling gases at a fumarole on Mount Bakermarker in Washingtonmarker, USA.Image:Fumerole by Bruce McAdam.jpg|At Námafjall, IcelandImage:Vulcano 2009-06-05 D Bruyere.JPG|Sulfur deposits on Vulcano (Eolian islands, Italy)

See also


  1. The Hydrothermal System at Home Plate in Gusev Crater, Mars, R.V.Morris, S.W.Squyres, -et al., Lunar & Planetary Science XXXIX(2008)

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