Observations on Multi-Slug Activity – Implications for Volcanic Processes

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 3:10 PM
Tom David Pering1, Andrew J. S. McGonigle1,2, Mike R James3, Stephen J Lane3, Antonio Capponi3, Giancarlo Tamburello4 and Alessandro Aiuppa2,4, (1)University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom, (2)National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Palermo, Rome, Italy, (3)Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom, (4)University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy
The study of single gas slugs in volcanic conduits has received a large amount of focus within the literature. However, the more complex behaviour associated with the rise and burst of multiple slugs has yet to be considered in detail in a volcanic context. Here we combine observations and analyses of such activity using a three-pronged approach consisting of existing gas mass data collected during rapid slug driven activity at Mt. Etna, scaled laboratory analogue experiments, and computer simulations using the Ansys Fluent® fluid dynamics software. Particular focus was applied to the process of coalescence and wake capture during slug expansion and rise. The results indicate a variety of potential features and relationships, including: promotion of coalescence at distances further than predicted wake lengths, approximate maximum gas volume fraction and minimum magma viscosity values for the occurrence of stable multi-slug activity, and in the laboratory regimes a series of linear trends are associated with overall gas volume fraction and burst volume. A previously observed phenomenon at Mt. Etna, whereby larger slug bursting events are subject to a longer repose period prior to the following event, than smaller events, is also evident in the lab setting. By combining all acquired and modelled data, we derive an approximate relation, using existing formulae for slug base rise speed (Viana et al. 2003) and wake length (Campos and Guedes de Carvalho, 1988), to describe a minimum repose period which is likely to follow the burst of a slug at the surface. The outlined work has significant fluid dynamic implications for possible magma and conduit properties which can allow multi-slug activity at volcanic targets.