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A one-dimensional volcanic plume model for predicting ash aggregation

July 26, 2023

During explosive volcanic eruptions, volcanic ash is ejected into the atmosphere, impacting aircraft safety and downwind communities. These volcanic clouds tend to be dominated by fine ash (<63 μm in diameter), permitting transport over hundreds to thousands of kilometers. However, field observations show that much of this fine ash aggregates into clusters or pellets with faster settling velocities than individual particles. Models of ash transport and deposition require an understanding of aggregation processes, which depend on factors like moisture content and local particle collision rates. In this study, we develop a Plume Model for Aggregate Prediction, a one-dimensional (1D) volcanic plume model that predicts the plume rise height, concentration of water phases, and size distribution of resulting ash aggregates from a set of eruption source parameters. The plume model uses a control volume approach to solve mass, momentum, and energy equations along the direction of the plume axis. The aggregation equation is solved using a fixed pivot technique and incorporates a sticking efficiency model developed from analog laboratory experiments of particle aggregation within a novel turbulence tower. When applied to the 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, the 1D model predicts that the majority of the plume is over-saturated with water, leading to a high rate of aggregation. Although the mean grain size of the computed Redoubt aggregates is larger than the measured deposits, with a peak at 1 mm rather than 500 μm, the present results provide a quantitative estimate for the magnitude of aggregation in an eruption.

Publication Year 2023
Title A one-dimensional volcanic plume model for predicting ash aggregation
DOI 10.1029/2023JB027002
Authors Davis W. Hoffman, Larry G. Mastin, Alexa R. Van Eaton, Stephen A. Solovitz, Raul B. Cal, John K. Eaton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title JGR Solid Earth
Index ID 70249842
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center