Aggregation Of Volcanic Particles: Physical Constraints Provided By Field And Numerical Investigations

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Gholamhossein Bagheri, Eduardo Rossi and Costanza Bonadonna, University of Geneva, Section of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geneva, Switzerland
The characterization and parameterization of both sedimentation and aggregation of volcanic particles is necessary for an accurate description of the sink term in numerical models of tephra dispersal used for the evaluation of tephra hazards. Nonetheless, our understanding of particle fallout in various eruptive and atmospheric conditions is still limited mostly due to the lack of direct observations. A comparative investigation of sedimentation and aggregation of volcanic particles is here presented based on field experiments and numerical simulations. Field experiments are based on detailed observations of particle fallout during Vulcanian explosions and ash emissions at Sakurajima volcano (Japan) on August 3, 2013. Column height was up to about 3 km above sea level and the cloud spread with average velocity of about 7 ms-1 toward southeast direction. Aggregates that fell at a distance of about 4 km from the vent were filmed with a high-speed and high-resolution camera before depositing on collection glasses. In order to preserve and analyze particle aggregates with the Scanning Electron Microscope, collecting glasses were covered with a special adhesive tape. Dedicated trays were also used to collect the depositing tephra at five-minute intervals to investigate both accumulation rate and particle size. CILAS grain size analysis showed that mode of particles deposited on the ground decreased with time from 550 μm to 250 μm at the reference location. Aggregate size ranged between 400 and 900 μm (based on video analysis) and they mostly consist of a single or multiple particles acting as nuclei with diameter between 200 and 800 μm coated with ash particles (<90 μm). Also aggregate size decreased with time during fallout and aggregate typology changed from mostly coated particles to ash clusters. Aggregation significantly affected particle residence time in the spreading cloud by changing the associated settling velocity. Based on numerical constraints, aggregates were thought to be formed within the rising plume or at the corner with the horizontal cloud and within 200 seconds of the onset of the eruption.