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Explosive volcanic eruptions ‐ VI. Ejecta dispersal in plinian eruptions: the control of eruption conditions and atmospheric properties

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/1987
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)657-679
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Summary. A simple model is developed to relate the maximum down‐wind and cross‐wind ranges of pyroclasts forming a plinian airfall deposit to the dynamic processes in the eruption cloud from which they fall and the atmospheric wind conditions in the area. The eruption cloud dynamics are in turn related to the eruptive conditions in the vent (vent radius, exsolved magmatic volatile weight fraction, velocity with which material passes through the vent, and mass eruption rate), some or all of which can be deduced if the appropriate field measurements can be made. Some aspects of the stability of convecting volcanic eruption clouds are investigated, and the effects on eruption cloud height of the local atmospheric temperature profile and the value adopted for the entrainment constant (which relates the horizontal flow speed of atmospheric air entering the column to the vertical rise speed of the column material) are explored. It is confirmed that eruption‐cloud rise height and pyroclast dispersal are mainly controlled by the mass eruption rate (per unit length of active fissure in the case of linear vents) and, hence, the heat input rate to the cloud; but a significant subsidiary dependence on the amount of exsolved magma volatiles is also found. The eruption cloud model is validated by application to observed historic eruptions, and its use in the analysis of palaeo‐eruptions is discussed.