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Pyroclastic flow hazard at Volcán Citlaltépetl

January 1, 2004

Volcán Citlaltépetl (Pico de Orizaba) with an elevation of 5,675 m is the highest volcano in North America. Its most recent catastrophic events involved the production of pyroclastic flows that erupted approximately 4,000, 8,500, and 13,000 years ago. The distribution of mapped deposits from these eruptions gives an approximate guide to the extent of products from potential future eruptions. Because the topography of this volcano is constantly changing computer simulations were made on the present topography using three computer algorithms: energy cone, FLOW2D, and FLOW3D. The Heim Coefficient (μ), used as a code parameter for frictional sliding in all our algorithms, is the ratio of the assumed drop in elevation (H) divided by the lateral extent of the mapped deposits (L). The viscosity parameter for the FLOW2D and FLOW3D codes was adjusted so that the paths of the flows mimicked those inferred from the mapped deposits. We modeled two categories of pyroclastic flows modeled for the level I and level II events. Level I pyroclastic flows correspond to small but more frequent block-and-ash flows that remain on the main cone. Level II flows correspond to more widespread flows from catastrophic eruptions with an approximate 4,000-year repose period. We developed hazard maps from simulations based on a National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) DTED-1 DEM with a 90 m grid and a vertical accuracy of ±30 m. Because realistic visualization is an important aid to understanding the risks related to volcanic hazards we present the DEM as modeled by FLOW3D. The model shows that the pyroclastic flows extend for much greater distances to the east of the volcano summit where the topographic relief is nearly 4,300 m. This study was used to plot hazard zones for pyroclastic flows in the official hazard map that was published recently.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title Pyroclastic flow hazard at Volcán Citlaltépetl
DOI 10.1023/B:NHAZ.0000037028.89829.d1
Authors Michael F. Sheridan, Bernard E. Hubbard, Gerardo Carrasco-Nunez, Claus Siebe
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Natural Hazards
Index ID 70026635
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center