Sedimentological constraints on hydrometeor-enhanced particle deposition: 1992 Eruptions of Crater Peak, Alaska

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Water is a dominant component of volcanic clouds and has fundamental control on very fine particle deposition. Particle size characteristics of distal tephra-fall (100s km from source volcano) have a higher proportion of very fine particles compared to predictions based on single particle settling rates. In this study, sedimentological analyses of fallout from for the 18 August and 16–17 September 1992 eruptions of Crater Peak, Alaska, are combined with satellite observations, and cloud trajectory and microphysics modeling to investigate meteorological influences on particle sedimentation. Total grain size distributions of tephra fallout were reconstructed for both Crater Peak eruptions and indicate a predominance of fine particles < 125 μm. Polymodal analysis of the deposits has identified a particle subpopulation with mode ~ 15–18 μm involved in particle aggregation. Accounting for the magmatic water source only, calculated ice water content of the 3.7 hour old September 1992 Spurr cloud was ~ 4.5 × 10− 2 g m− 3 (based on an estimated cloud thickness of ~ 1000 m from trajectory modeling). Hydrometeor formation on particles in the volcanic cloud and subsequent sublimation may induce a cloud base instability that leads to rapid bulk (en masse) sedimentation of very fine particles through a mammatus-like mechanism.

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© 2009 Elsevier B.V. Publisher's version of record:

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Journal of Volconology and Geothermal Research