Large Bubble Growth Quantified By Video and Infrasound at Mount Erebus, Antarctica

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Alex James Conrad Miller and Jeffrey Bruce Johnson, Boise State University, Boise, ID, United States
Mount Erebus lava lake eruptions exhibit many characteristic strombolian attributes including the ascent of a large gas slug(s) through the magma column followed by its expansion and bursting at the surface. Strombolian explosions correspond to pressurized large (>10 m radius) bubbles, which distend the lava lake surface before bursting within a few tenths of a second thus generating infrasonic impulses followed by decaying oscillations. We quantify the dynamics of bubble evolution using infrasound and time synchronized video data recording at ~30 FPS. Video footage is used to synthesize pressure time series during eruptions assuming a simple acoustic source. These synthetic pressure records are directly compared to infrasound pressure records collected at two sites located ~300 m from the lava lake source. A scaled relationship exists between infrasound and video derived pressures where video generally overestimates the volumetrically expanding source. This scaling is due to the image processing routine, which tracks and models the ejection of ballistics during eruption as an expanding hemisphere and not necessarily the expansion of a translucent gas source that is not directly visible with optical imagery. Using both data sets, we describe Erebus lava lake eruptions in three phases with smooth distension of spherical cap (P1), followed by membrane fragmentation and violent gas expulsion (P2) and finally a contraction of the volumetric gas source due to an initial over-expansion followed by re-equilibration. (P3). Specifically, P3 is identified by decaying oscillations of the pressure record which has been well modeled in laboratory experiments but never described at Erebus.