Transient dynamics of vulcanian explosions and column collapse

A. B. Clarke, B. Voight, A. Nerl, G. Macedonio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations

Abstract

Several analytical and numerical eruption models have provided insight into volcanic eruption behaviour1-5, but most address plinian-type eruptions where vent conditions are quasi-steady. Only a few studies have explored the physics of short-duration vulcanian explosions6-9 with unsteady vent conditions and blast events10, 11. Here we present a technique that links unsteady vent flux of vulcanian explosions to the resulting dispersal of volcanic ejecta, using a numerical, axisymmetric model with multiple particle sizes. We use observational data from well documented explosions in 1997 at the Soufrière Hills volcano in Montserrat, West Indies, to constrain pre-eruptive subsurface initial conditions and to compare with our simulation results. The resulting simulations duplicate many features of the observed explosions, showing transitional behaviour where mass is divided between a buoyant plume and hazardous radial pyroclastic currents fed by a collapsing fountain12. We find that leakage of volcanic gas from the conduit through surrounding rocks over a short period (of the order of 10 hours) or retarded exsolution can dictate the style of explosion. Our simulations also reveal the internal plume dynamics and particle-size segregation mechanisms that may occur in such eruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-901
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume415
Issue number6874
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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