A model for wet aggregation of ash particles in volcanic plumes and clouds: 2. Model application

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The occurrence of particle aggregation has a dramatic effect on the transport and sedimentation of volcanic ash. The aggregation process is complex and can occur under different conditions and in multiple regions of the plume and in the ash cloud. In the companion paper, Costa et al. develop an aggregation model based on a fractal relationship to describe the rate particles are incorporated into ash aggregates. The model includes the effects of both magmatic and atmospheric water present in the volcanic cloud and demonstrates that the rate of aggregation depends on the characteristics of the initial particle size distribution. The aggregation model includes two parameters, the fractal exponent Df, which describes the efficiency of the aggregation process, and the aggregate settling velocity correction factor ψe, which influences the distance at which distal mass deposition maxima form. Both parameters are adjusted using features of the observed deposits. Here this aggregation model is implemented in the FALL3D volcanic ash transport model and applied to the 18 May 1980 Mount St. Helens and the 17-18 September 1992 Crater Peak eruptions. For both eruptions, the optimized values for Df(2.96-3.00) and ψe(0.27-0.33) indicate that the ash aggregates had a bulk density of 700-800 kg m-3. The model provides a higher degree of agreement than previous fully empirical aggregation models and successfully reproduces the depositional characteristics of the deposits investigated over a large range of scales, including the position and thickness of the secondary maxima. © Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth