Effect of particle volume fraction on the settling velocity of volcanic ash particles: implications for ash dispersion models
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
We present the first report of experimental measurements of the enhanced settling velocity of volcanic particles as function of particle volume fraction. In order to investigate the differences in the aerodynamic behavior of ash particles when settling individually or in mass, we performed systematic large-scale ash settling experiments using natural basaltic and phonolitic ash. By releasing ash particles at different, controlled volumetric flow rates, in an unconstrained open space and at minimal air movement, we measured their terminal velocity, size, and particle volume fraction with a high-speed camera at 2000 fps. Enhanced settling velocities of individual particles increase with increasing particle volume fraction. This suggests that particle clustering during fallout may be one reason explaining larger than theoretical depletion rates of fine particles from volcanic ash clouds. We provide a quantitative empirical model that allows to calculate, from a given particle size and density, the enhanced velocity resulting from a given particle volume fraction. The proposed model has the potential to serve as a simple tool for the prediction of the terminal velocity of ash of an hypothetical distribution of ash of known particle size and volume fraction. This is of particular importance for advection-diffusion transport model of ash where generally a one-way coupling is adopted, considering only the flow effects on particles. To better quantify the importance of the enhanced settling velocity in ash dispersal, we finally introduced the new formulation in a Lagrangian model calculating for realistic eruptive conditions the resulting ash concentration in the atmosphere and on the ground.