Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Geology (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


William I Rose


Volcanic ash clouds can be fed by an upward-directed eruption column (Plinian column) or by elutriation from extensive pyroclastic-flows (coignimbrite cloud). For large-scale eruptions, there is considerable uncertainty about which mechanism is dominant. Here we analyze in a novel way a comprehensive grainsize database for pyroclastic deposits. We demonstrate that the Mount Pinatubo climactic eruption deposits were substantially derived from coignimbrite clouds, and not only by a Plinian cloud as generally thought. Coignimbrite ash-fall deposits are much richer in breathable <10 m ash (5–25 wt%) than pure Plinian ash at most distances from the source volcano. We also show that coignimbrite ash clouds, as at Pinatubo, are expected to be more water rich than Plinian clouds, leading to removal of more HCl prior to stratospheric injection, thereby reducing their atmospheric impact.

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