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The dynamics of slug trains in volcanic conduits: Evidence for expansion driven slug coalescence

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/12/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Volume348
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)26-35
Publication statusPublished
Early online date20/10/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Strombolian volcanism is a ubiquitous form of activity, driven by the ascent and bursting of bubbles of slug morphology. Whilst considerable attention has been devoted to understanding the behaviour of individual slugs in this regime, relatively little is known about how inter-slug interactions modify flow conditions. Recently, we reported on high temporal frequency strombolian activity on Etna, in which the larger erupted slug masses were followed by longer intervals before the following explosion than the smaller bursts (Pering et al., 2015). We hypothesised that this behaviour arose from the coalescence of ascending slugs causing a prolonged lag before arrival of the next distinct bubble. Here we consider the potential importance of inter-slug interactions for the dynamics of strombolian volcanism, by reporting on the first study into the behaviour of trains of ascending gas slugs, scaled to the expansion rates in volcanic conduits. This laboratory analogue study illustrates that slugs in trains rise faster than individual slugs, and can be associated with aspects of co-current flow. The work also highlights that coalescence and inter-slug interactions play an important role in modulating slug train behaviour. We also report, for the first time, on slug coalescence driven by vertical expansion of the trailing slug, a process which can occur, even where the leading slug base ascent velocity is greater than that of the trailing slug.