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An example of enhanced tephra deposition driven by topographically-induced atmospheric turbulence

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Article number35
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Bulletin of Volcanology
Number of pages14
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date12/04/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Spatial variations in the thickness and grain-size characteristics of tephra fall deposits imply that tephra depositional processes cannot be fully captured by models of single-particle sedimentation from the base of the eruption plume. Here, we document a secondary thickness maximum in a ∼9.75 ka tephra fall deposit from Chaitén volcano, Chile (Cha1 eruption). This secondary thickness maximum is notably coarser-grained than documented historical examples, being dominated by medium-grained ash, and an origin via particle aggregation is therefore unlikely. In the region of secondary thickening, we propose that high levels of atmospheric turbulence accelerated particles held within the mid- to lower-troposphere (0 to ∼6 km) towards the ground surface. We suggest that this enhancement in vertical atmospheric mixing was driven by the breaking of lee waves, generated by winds passing over elevated topography beneath the eruption plume. Lower atmospheric circulation patterns may exert a significant control on the dispersal and deposition of tephra from eruption plumes across all spatial scales, particularly in areas of complex topography.

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Copyright The Author(s) 2015. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com