Determination of the total grain size distribution in a Vulcanian eruption column, and its implications to stratospheric aerosol perturbation

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Grain size analysis of samples representing all sampleable portions of the airfall deposit produced by the Fuego volcano in Guatemala on 14 October 1974 form the basis for estimating the total grain size distribution of tephra from this eruption. The region enclosed by each isopach has a particular average grain size distribution which can be weighted proportionally to its percentage volume. The grain size of pyroclastic avalanche deposits produced during the eruption are also included. The total grain size distribution calculated as a sum of weighted distributions has a median grain size of 0.8∅ (0.6mm) and a sorting coefficient (σ∅) of 2.3. The size distribution seems to approximate Rosin and Rammler's law of crushing and this observation allows us to estimate that no more than 15% volume of the fine tail of the total size distribution is likely to be missing. The ash composed of these fine particles did not fall in the region of the volcano as part of the recognizable tephra blanket. The eruption column reached well into the stratosphere: heights estimated from the ground were 10-12 km above sea level but estimated heights based on mass flux rates are higher (18-23 km). The proportion of ash smaller than 2 µm, which could remain for substantial periods in the stratosphere, is no more than 0.8% volume of the total. It seems probable that acid aerosol particles from vulcanian type eruptions are more important to stratospheric aerosol perturbation than fine silicate ash particles by at least an order of magnitude.

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Copyright 1980 by the American Geophysical Union. Publisher's version of record: https://dx.doi.org/10.1029/GL007i011p00893

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Geophysical Research Letters