Analysis of Mt Sinabung volcanic ash : implications for animal health

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Stewart, C.; Cronin, S.J.; Wilson, T.M.; Clegg, S. 2014 Analysis of Mt Sinabung volcanic ash : implications for animal health. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2014/65 14 p.

Abstract: Two volcanic ash samples from ash eruptions of Mt Sinabung in early 2014 were analysed for water-extractable elements. Both were collected in the vicinity of Sibintun village, approximately 4 km SSE of the vent. Water-extractable and HCl-extractable concentrations of a range of elements were determined in these samples. Water-soluble elements in Sinabung ash samples are dominated by Ca and SO4, followed by Cl and Na. Compared to global median concentrations, the Sinabung ash is higher in soluble Ca, Na, Br, Cl and SO4, and lower in Mg, K, F, Al and Fe. All elements were more readily solubilised by the simulated gastric leach than by the deionised water leach. The greatest difference was for Al (50–70 fold higher in gastric leach) and Fe (25–28 fold higher in gastric leach). Levels of the potentially-toxic element F were approximately four-fold higher in the simulated gastric leach (72–79 mg/kg) compared to water-extractable levels of 19–21 mg/kg. Re-extractions were carried out to give a more complete picture of the release of the agriculturally-important elements F and S into the environment. The Sinabung ash is similar in composition to ash from other eruptions around the world. While the samples (collected at just one location) provide only a snapshot into the potential health hazards of the ash, our analyses suggest that levels of the potentially-toxic elements fluorine and sulphur are too low to pose a health risk if ash is ingested by animals. However, a range of physical impacts (such as accelerated wear of teeth) may be experienced if animals ingest ash. (auth)