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Trashcano: Developing a quantitative teaching tool to understand ballistics accelerated by explosive volcanic eruptions

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Fabian Wadsworth
  • Jérémie Vasseur
  • Ben Kennedy
  • Julia Holzmueller
  • Bettina Scheu
  • Taylor Witcher
  • Janina Adolf
  • Francisco Cáceres
  • Ana Casas
  • Valeria Cigala
  • Alexandra Clement
  • Mathieu Colombier
  • Shane Cronin
  • Marcel Cronin
  • Donald Dingwell
  • Leticia Guimarães
  • Laura Höltgen
  • Ulrich Kueppers
  • Gilles Seropian
  • Sönke Stern
  • Adrien Teissier
  • Caron Vossen
  • Natalie Weichselgartner
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/09/2018
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)107-126
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Accurate predictions of volcanological phenomena, such as the trajectory of blocks accelerated by volcanic explo-sions, require quantitative skills training. Large outdoor experiments can be useful to convey concepts of volcanicprocesses to students in an exciting way. Beyond the fun aspects, these experiments provide an opportunity toengage with the physics of projectile flight and help promote mathematical learning within the Earth Sciences.We present a quantitative framework required to interpret ballistic trajectories and the outdoor experiment knowncommonly as “trashcano”, taking a step-by-step approach to the physics of this problem, and deriving a rangeof mathematical solutions involving different levels of complexity. Our solutions are consistent with the predic-tions from established computer programs for volcanic ballistic trajectory modelling, but we additionally providea nested set of simplified solutions, useful for a range of teaching scenarios as well as downloadable simulateddatasets for use where the full experiment may not be possible.