Turning Off Entrainment: The Role of Particle Size Distributions and Vent GeometryIn The Collapse of Volcanic Jets
Friday, 19 December 2014: 3:10 PM
Volcanic jets can undergo gravitational collapse to produce pyroclastic density currents (PDCs), or loft material several tens of kilometres and spread out as an ash cloud. The key ingredient that determines which of these two phenomena will occur is the turbulent entrainment of atmospheric air, which adds buoyancy to the jet. Classical models of eruption columns assume that the rate of entrainment is fixed and ~10% of the upflow rate of the jet. In particular, the efficiency of entrainment is assumed to be independent of the vent shape as well as the physical properties of the pyroclastic mixture. However, we show that the presence of particles of certain particle-size distributions (PSDs) in the jet can have a significant effect on the entrainment rate owing to their buoyancy and inertia. As a consequence, the conditions for collapse as previously identified must be revisited. In particular, there is a possibility for an eruption to produce both a buoyant column and a collapsing fountain. Using scaled analogue experiments, we test the likelyhood of collapse and the production of pyroclastic flows according to the source geometry and particle-size distributions.