Volcanic jets, plumes, and collapsing fountains: evidence from large-scale experiments, with particular emphasis on the entrainment rate
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The source conditions of volcanic plumes and collapsing fountains are investigated by means of large-scale experiments. In the experiments, gas-particle jets issuing from a cylindrical conduit are forced into the atmosphere at different mass flow rates. Dense jets (high particle volumetric concentration, e.g., C 0 > 0.01) generate collapsing fountains, whose height scales with the squared exit velocity. This is consistent with Bernoulli’s equation, which is a good approximation if air entrainment is negligible. In this case, kinetic energy is transformed into potential energy without any significant loss by friction with the atmosphere. The dense collapsing fountain, on hitting the ground, generates an intense shear flow similar to a pyroclastic density current. Dilute hot jets (low particle volumetric concentration, e.g., C 0 < 0.01) dissipate their initial kinetic energy at much smaller heights than those predicted by Bernoulli’s equation. This is an indication that part of the total mechanical energy is lost by friction with the atmosphere. Significant air entrainment results in this case, leading to the formation of a buoyant column (plume) from which particles settle similarly to pyroclastic fallout. The direct measurement of entrainment coefficient in the experiments suggests that dense collapsing fountains form only when air entrainment is not significant. This is a consequence of the large density difference between the jet and the atmosphere. Cold dilute experiments result in an entrainment coefficient of about 0.06, which is typical of pure jets of fluid dynamics. Hot dilute experiments result in an entrainment coefficient of about 0.11, which is typical of thermally buoyant plumes. The entrainment coefficients obtained by experiments were used as input data in numerical simulations of fountains and plumes. A numerical model was used to solve the classic top-hat system of governing equations, which averages the field variables (e.g., column velocity and density) across the column. The maximum heights calculated with the model agree well with those observed experimentally, showing that our entrainment coefficients are compatible with a top-hat model. Dimensional analysis of the experimental data shows that a value of 3 for the source densimetric Froude number characterizes the transition between dense collapsing fountains and dilute plumes. This value delimits the source conditions (exit velocity, conduit radius, and particle volumetric concentration) for pyroclastic flow (<3) and fallout (>3).
KeywordsExplosive eruptions Eruptive columns Negatively buoyant jets Collapsing fountains Densimetric Froude number Turbulent entrainment
We wish to thank Dr. Sarah A. Fagents, Prof. Danilo M. Palladino, and an anonymous reviewer for significantly improving the manuscript. Research was partially funded by DPC-INGV agreement 07–09 and MUR PRIN 06.
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