Forecasting and communicating the dispersion and fallout of ash during volcanic eruptions: lessons from the September 20, 2020 eruptive pulse at Sangay volcano, Ecuador
Volcanic ash is a hazard to human health and activities. Accurate and timely forecasts coupled with effective communication about the dispersion and fallout of volcanic ash during explosive events are essential to reduce impacts on local communities and limit economic losses. In this study, we present the first detailed description of an eruptive pulse at Sangay volcano and its eruption source parameters. The eruptive pulse on September 20, 2020, started at about 9:20 UTC and lasted between 90 and 100 min, producing an eruptive column that rapidly separated into (1) a higher (15.2 km above sea level, asl), gas-rich cloud moving east-southeast and (2) a lower (12.2 km asl), ash-rich cloud moving west and causing ash fallout up to 280 km from the volcano. Field data collected immediately after the event allow estimating the volume of bulk tephra to be between 1.5 and 5.0 × 106 m3, corresponding to a volcanic explosivity index of 2. The eruptive pulse, identified as violent Strombolian, emitted andesitic ash that was more mafic than products ejected by Sangay volcano in recent decades. Component analysis and glass chemistry of juvenile particles support the hypothesis that this event excavated deeper into the upper conduit compared to typical Strombolian activity at Sangay volcano, while grain-size analysis allows reconstruction of the total grain-size distribution of the fallout deposit. The discrepancies between the ash fallout simulations performed with the Ash3D online tool and the actual deposit are mainly the result of inaccurate pre- and syn-eruptive configurations and highlight the importance of additional processes such as aggregation. Communication products issued during the event included (1) several standard short reports, (2) volcano observatory notices for aviation, (3) social media posts, and (4) a special report providing the results of the ash fallout simulation. Although communication was effective with the authorities and the connected population, an effort must be made to reach the most vulnerable isolated communities for future events. This study shows that forecasting ash dispersion and fallout during volcanic eruptions can guide early warnings and trigger humanitarian actions, and should become a standard in volcano observatories worldwide.
|Forecasting and communicating the dispersion and fallout of ash during volcanic eruptions: lessons from the September 20, 2020 eruptive pulse at Sangay volcano, Ecuador
|Benjamin Bernard, Pablo Samaniego, Larry G. Mastin, Stephen Hernandez, Gerardo Pino, Jamie Kibler, Marjorie Encalada, Silvano Hidalgo, Nicole Vizuete
|Frontiers in Earth Science
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Volcano Science Center