What’s All the Talc About? Air Entrainment in Dilute Pyroclastic Density Currents

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Brianna Jael Marshall, Calvin College, Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, United States, Benjamin James Andrews, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, United States and Kristen Fauria, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States
A quantitative understanding of air entrainment is critical to predicting the behaviors of dilute Pyroclastic Density Currents (PDCs), including runout distance, liftoff, and mass fractionation into co-PDC plumes. We performed experiments in an 8.5x6x2.6 meter tank using 20 micron talc powder over a range of conditions to describe air entrainment as a function of temperature, duration and mass flux. The experiments are reproducible and are scaled with respect to the densimetric and thermal Richardson numbers (Ri and RiT), Froude number, thermal to kinetic energy density ratio (TEb/KE), Stokes number, and Settling number, such that they are dynamically similar to natural dilute PDCs. Experiments are illuminated with a swept laser sheet and imaged at 1000 Hz to create 3D reconstructions of the currents, with ~1-2 cm resolution, at up to 1.5 Hz. An array of 30 high-frequency thermocouples record the precise temperature in the currents at 3 Hz. Bulk entrainment rates are calculated based on measured current volumes, surface areas, temperatures and velocities. Entrainment rates vary from ~0-0.9 and do not show simple variation with TEb/KE, Ri, or RiT. Entrainment does, however, increase with decreasing eruption duration and increasing mass flux. Our results suggest that current heads entrain air more efficiently than current bodies (>0.5 compared to ~0.1). Because shorter duration currents have proportionally larger heads, their bulk entrainment rates are controlled by those heads, whereas longer duration currents are dominated by their bodies. Our experiments demonstrate that air entrainment, which exerts a fundamental control on PDC runout and liftoff, varies spatially and temporally within PDCs.