Fine ash content of explosive eruptions
In explosive eruptions, the mass proportion of ash that is aerodynamically fine enough to cause problems with jet aircraft or human lungs (< 30 to 60 μm in diameter) is in the range of a few percent to more than 50%. The proportions are higher for silicic explosive eruptions, probably because vesicle size in the pre-eruptive magma is smaller than those in mafic magmas. There is good evidence that pyroclastic flows produce high proportions of fine ash by communition and it is likely that this process also occurs inside volcanic conduits and would be most efficient when the magma fragmentation surface is well below the summit crater. Reconstructed total grain size distributions for several recent explosive eruptions indicate that basaltic eruptions have small proportions of very fine ash (~ 1 to 4%) while tephra generated during silicic eruptions contains large proportions (30 to > 50%).
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Rose, William I. and Durant, Adam J., "Fine ash content of explosive eruptions" (2009). Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences Publications. 27.