Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 616–630 | Cite as

Stratified flow in pyroclastic surges

  • Greg A. Valentine


Stratified flow theory is applied to pyroclatic surges in an effort to gain insight into transport dynamics during explosive eruptions. Particle transport is assumed to be by turbulent suspension, and calculations contained herein show that this is likely for many cases including the 18 May 1980 blast at mount St. Helens. The discussion centers on the Rouse number (Pn), which represents a ratio of particle settling velocity to scale of turbulence; the Brunt-Väisälä frequency (N), which is the maximum possible frequency of internal waves; the Froude number (Fr), representing the ratio of inertial forces to gravitational forces; and the Richardson number (Ri), a ratio of buoyant restoring forces to turbulent mixing forces. The velocity or flow power dependence of bed-form wavelength in surge deposits is related to a velocity dependence of wavelength of internal waves in the turbulent surge. This produces a decrease in dune wavelength with increasing distance from vent. Migration direction of bed forms is related toFr as it is defined for a continuously stratified flow. Proximal to distal facies variations in surge deposits reflect increasingPn andRi as the flows move away from their sources. This produces the progression from sandwave to massive to planar facies with increasing distance from vent. Where the long axis of topography is at low angles to the flow direction, massive facies in topographic lows may from concurrently with sandwave facies on highs, due to the higher particle concentration in the lows. Where long axis of topography is at high angles to flow direction, denser lower parts of the surge may be dammed or “blocked”. Blocked material tends to form massive flows that may move down slope independent of the overriding surge. A model incorporating turbulent transport, stratified flow, and time evolution of pyroclastic surges is proposed for deposits which have been attributed to both pyroclastic flow and pyroclastic surge transport by various workers. During the initial high energy (waxing) phase of the eruptive event,Pn is sufficiently low that only coarse, but poorly sorted, material is deposited to form relatively coarse bottom layers. As the event wanes, remaining finer material is deposited through a thin bed load to produce overlying bedded and cross-bedded veneer deposits. Throughout most of the event, blocking occurs to produce relatively thick and massive deposits in valley bottoms.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Greg A. Valentine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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