Sources and Radiation Patterns of Volcano-Acoustic Signals Investigated with Field-Scale Chemical Explosions

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Daniel C Bowman, UNC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, Jonathan M Lees, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, Jacopo Taddeucci, National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Rome, Italy, Alison H Graettinger, SUNY Buffalo, Amherst, NY, United States, Ingo Sonder, SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, United States and Greg Valentine, Univ of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, United States
We investigate the processes that give rise to complex acoustic signals during volcanic blasts by monitoring buried chemical explosions with infrasound and audio range microphones, strong motion sensors, and high speed imagery. Acoustic waveforms vary with scaled depth of burial (SDOB, units in meters per cube root of joules), ranging from high amplitude, impulsive, gas expansion dominated signals at low SDOB to low amplitude, longer duration, ground motion dominated signals at high SDOB. Typically, the sudden upward acceleration of the substrate above the blast produces the first acoustic arrival, followed by a second pulse due to the eruption of pressurized gas at the surface. Occasionally, a third overpressure occurs when displaced material decelerates upon impact with the ground. The transition between ground motion dominated and gas release dominated acoustics ranges between 0.0038-0.0018 SDOB, respectively. For example, one explosion registering an SDOB=0.0031 produced two overpressure pulses of approximately equal amplitude, one due to ground motion, the other to gas release. Recorded volcano infrasound has also identified distinct ground motion and gas release components during explosions at Sakurajima, Santiaguito, and Karymsky volcanoes. Our results indicate that infrasound records may provide a proxy for the depth and energy of these explosions. Furthermore, while magma fragmentation models indicate the possibility of several explosions during a single vulcanian eruption (Alidibirov, Bull Volc., 1994), our results suggest that a single explosion can also produce complex acoustic signals. Thus acoustic records alone cannot be used to distinguish between single explosions and multiple closely-spaced blasts at volcanoes. Results from a series of lateral blasts during the 2014 field experiment further indicates whether vent geometry can produce directional acoustic radiation patterns like those observed at Tungarahua volcano (Kim et al., GJI, 2012). Beside infrasonic radiation, our multiparametric dataset also allowed us to investigate other acoustic processes relevant for explosive eruptions, including shock-wave generation and audible sound radiation, and to link them to the starting conditions and evolution of the blasts.