Fluid dynamics of the 1997 Boxing Day volcanic blast on Montserrat, West Indies

T. Esposti Ongaro, Amanda Clarke, A. Neri, B. Voight, C. Widiwijayanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Directed volcanic blasts are powerful explosions with a significant laterally directed component which can generate devastating, high-energy pyroclastic density currents (PDCs). Such blasts are an important class of eruptive phenomena, but quantified understanding of their dynamics and effects is still incomplete. Here we use 2-D and 3-D multiparticle thermofluid dynamic flow codes to examine a powerful volcanic blast that occurred on Montserrat in December 1997. On the basis of the simulations, we divide the blast into three phases: an initial burst phase that lasts roughly 5 s and involves rapid expansion of the gas-pyroclast mixture, a gravitational collapse phase that occurs when the erupted material fails to mix with sufficient air to form a buoyant column and thus collapses asymmetrically, and a PDC phase that is dominated by motion parallel to the ground surface and is influenced by topography. We vary key input parameters such as total gas energy and total solid mass to understand their influence on simulations, and we compare the simulations with independent field observations of damage and deposits, demonstrating that the models generally capture important large-scale features of the natural phenomenon. We also examine the 2-D and 3-D model results to estimate the flow Mach number and conclude that the range of damage sustained at villages on Montserrat can be reasonably explained by the spatial and temporal distribution of the dynamic pressure associated with subsonic PDCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB03211
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume113
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 4 2008

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West Indies
fluid dynamics
blasts
Fluid dynamics
density current
volcanology
Current density
simulation
damage
current density
Gas mixtures
temporal distribution
Topography
Mach number
Explosions
energy
dynamic pressure
gravitational collapse
explosion
village

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography

Cite this

Fluid dynamics of the 1997 Boxing Day volcanic blast on Montserrat, West Indies. / Esposti Ongaro, T.; Clarke, Amanda; Neri, A.; Voight, B.; Widiwijayanti, C.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, Vol. 113, No. 3, B03211, 04.03.2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Esposti Ongaro, T. ; Clarke, Amanda ; Neri, A. ; Voight, B. ; Widiwijayanti, C. / Fluid dynamics of the 1997 Boxing Day volcanic blast on Montserrat, West Indies. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 2008 ; Vol. 113, No. 3.
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