Atmospheric vertical velocity - a crucial component in understanding proximal deposition of volcanic ash

TitleAtmospheric vertical velocity - a crucial component in understanding proximal deposition of volcanic ash
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsPoulidis AP, Biass S, Bagheri G, Takemi T, Iguchi M
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Date Published07/2021
Other NumbersArticle number: 116980
Keywordsdispersal modelling, Lagrangian, large-eddy simulation, Sakurajima volcano, trajectory, volcanic ash

The simulation of volcanic ash transport and deposition (VATD) for distances within a few kilometres from the vent (proximal region) is challenging owing to a combination of unresolved volcanogenic effects and the impact of the volcano's orography. Due to the urgency of calculations or sometimes lack of access to computational resources or expertise, atmospheric vertical velocity (w) is often underestimated in VATD modelling. The error associated with this underestimation has, however, never been properly quantified. Here, we use a weak vulcanian eruption that occurred at Sakurajima volcano on 1/10/2017 as a first step to addressing this limitation. We combine deposit characteristics observed by disdrometer measurements with high-resolution atmospheric and VATD modelling to validate and illustrate the differences in modelled trajectories when w is either ignored or accounted for. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to model the orogenic effects down to a resolution of 50 m. Eulerian and Lagrangian VATD models (FALL3D and LagTrack, a newly-developed Matlab code, respectively) are used to describe the particle trajectories. Results confirm the importance of w in the case of low-altitude eruptions for capturing the complex, near-vent trajectory of ash particles: when neglected fall velocities were seen to differ up to 2–5 m s−1 depending on the particle size. Although the impact of w is most notable within 10 km from the vent, the forced sedimentation of low terminal velocity particles can have a significant secondary effect at larger distances.