Volcanic Lightning, Pyroclastic Density Currents, Ballistic Fall, Vent Tremor, and One Very Loud Blast: Acoustic Analysis of the 14 July 2013 Vulcanian Eruption at Tungurahua, Ecuador.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Jacob Anderson1, Jeffrey Bruce Johnson1, Alexander L. Steele2, Juan Camilo Anzieta2, Hugo David Ortiz2, Minard L Hall2 and Mario Calixto Ruiz2, (1)Boise State University, Boise, ID, United States, (2)Instituto Geofisico EPN - Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador
Acoustic recordings reveal a variety of volcanic activities during an exceptionally loud vulcanian eruption at Tungurahua. A period of several months of mild surface activity came to an abrupt end with the emission of a powerful blast wave heard at least 180 km away. Sensors 2080 m from the vent recorded a stepped rise to its maximum overpressure of 1220 Pa (corresponding to a sound pressure level of 156 dB) and its unusually long dominant period of 5.6 s. We discuss source processes that produced the blast wave, considering that wave propagation could be nonlinear near the vent because of high overpressures. More than an hour of acoustic activity was recorded after the blast wave, including sound from falling ballistics, reflections of the blast wave from nearby mountains, pyroclastic density currents, and acoustic tremor at the vent. Glitches in the acoustic records related to plume lightning were also serendipitously observed, although thunder could not be unambiguously identified. We discuss acoustic signatures of falling ballistics and pyroclastic density currents and how array-style deployments and analytic methods can be used to reveal them. Placement of sensors high on the volcano's slopes facilitated resolving these distinct processes. This study demonstrates that near-vent, array-style acoustic installations can be used to monitor various types of volcanic activity.