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Comparing simulations of umbrella-cloud growth and ash transport with observations from Pinatubo, Kelud, and Calbuco volcanoes

September 27, 2020

The largest explosive volcanic eruptions produce umbrella clouds that drive ash radially outward, enlarging the area that impacts aviation and ground-based communities. Models must consider the effects of umbrella spreading when forecasting hazards from these eruptions. In this paper we test a version of the advection–dispersion model Ash3d that considers umbrella spreading by comparing its simulations with observations from three well-documented umbrella-forming eruptions: (1) the 15 June 1991 eruption of Pinatubo (Philippines); (2) the 13 February 2014 eruption of Kelud (Indonesia); and (3) phase 2 of the 22–23 April 2015 eruption of Calbuco (Chile). In volume, these eruptions ranged from several cubic kilometers dense-rock equivalent (DRE) for Pinatubo to about one tenth for Calbuco. In mass eruption rate (MER), they ranged from 108–109 kg s−1 at Pinatubo to 9–16 × 106 kg s−1 at Calbuco. For each case we ran simulations that considered umbrella growth and ones that did not. All umbrella-cloud simulations produced a cloud whose area was within ~25% of the observed cloud by the end of the eruption. By the eruption end, the simulated areas of the Pinatubo, Kelud, and Calbuco clouds were 851, 53.2, and 100 × 103 km2 respectively. These areas were 2.2, 2.2, and 1.5 times the areas calculated in simulations that ignored umbrella growth. For Pinatubo and Kelud, the umbrella simulations provided better agreement with the observed cloud area than the non-umbrella simulations. Each of these simulations extended 24 h from the eruption start. After the eruption ended, the difference in cloud area (umbrella minus non-umbrella) at Pinatubo persisted for many hours; at Kelud it diminished and became negative after 14 h and at Calbuco it became negative after ~23 h. The negative differences were inferred to result from the fact that non-umbrella simulations distributed ash over a wider vertical extent in the plume, and that wind shear spread the cloud out in multiple directions. Thus, for some smaller eruptions, wind shear can produce a larger cloud than might be produced by umbrella spreading alone.

Publication Year 2020
Title Comparing simulations of umbrella-cloud growth and ash transport with observations from Pinatubo, Kelud, and Calbuco volcanoes
DOI 10.3390/atmos11101038
Authors Larry G. Mastin, Alexa R. Van Eaton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Atmosphere
Index ID 70218208
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center