Nature and Intensity of the 22-23 April 2015 Eruptions of Volcán Calbuco, Chile, from Satellite, Lightning, and Field Observations
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
On 22 April 2015, Calbuco Volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time in 43 years. The two primary phases of eruption, separated by a few hours, produced pyroclastic density currents, lahars, and spectacular vertical eruption columns that rose into the stratosphere. Clear weather conditions allowed the populated areas of Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas full view of the lightning-rich eruption, which was rapidly shared through social media. A wealth of remote-sensing data was also publically available in near real-time. We used this information to assess the eruption behavior by combining satellite-based umbrella growth rates, and the location and frequency of volcanic lightning. Umbrella expansion rates from GOES-13 satellite retrievals correspond to eruption rates of about 4x106 kg s-1 for the first eruptive phase and 6x106 kg s-1 for the second phase, following the approach of Pouget et al. (2013, JVGR, 258, 100-112). The location and timing of lightning flashes were obtained from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) Global Volcanic Lightning Monitor, which is updated approximately every minute (Ewert et al., 2010, Fall AGU Abstract AE31A-04). Interestingly, the onset of detected flashes was delayed by ~30 min after the start of each eruptive phase. Lighting provided a useful proxy for the waxing or waning intensity of the eruption, and helped identify the end of significant ash emissions. Using the 1-D volcanic plume model Plumeria, we have also simulated the vertical distribution of ash and ice in the plumes to examine potential causes of the extraordinary amount of volcanic lightning (1,094 flashes detected). Our analysis provides information on eruption timing, duration, and mass flow rate, which are necessary for ash dispersal modeling within hours of eruption. Results are also consistent with the field-based measurements of total erupted volume. We suggest that the combination of satellite-detected umbrella expansion rates with lightning data may provide a useful approach to constrain near real-time inputs for ash dispersal models and hazard warnings.