Natural Hazards

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 661–671 | Cite as

Dispersion modeling of volcanic ash clouds: North Pacific eruptions, the past 40 years: 1970–2010

  • P. W. Webley
  • K. Dean
  • R. Peterson
  • A. Steffke
  • M. Harrild
  • J. Groves
Original Paper


Over the last 40 years, there have been numerous volcanic eruptions across the North Pacific (NOPAC) region that posed a potential threat to both local communities and transcontinental aircraft. The ability to detect these volcanic clouds using satellite remote sensing and predict their movement by dispersion modeling is a major component of hazard mitigation. The Puff volcanic ash transport and dispersion model, used by the Alaska Volcano Observatory, was used to illustrate the impact that these volcanic ash clouds have made across the NOPAC and entire Polar region over the past 40 years. Nearly, 400 separate ash clouds were analyzed that were either reported or detected to have reached above 6 km (20,000 ft) above sea level, an average of one ash cloud every 1.25 months. Particular events showed that ash clouds can be tracked from Alaska to Greenland (Crater Peak, Mount Spurr in 1992), from Kamchatka to Alaska (Kluvicheskoi Volcano in 1994), from Alaska to California (Mount Cleveland Volcano in 2001) and from multiple events within 1 day (Mount Augustine Volcano in 2006). This study showed the vast number of events that have impacted this Polar region and how tracking them is useful for hazard mitigation.


Polar regions Volcanic ash Dispersion modeling 



We thank Jonathan Dehn (UAF) and the AVO remote sensing group for their analysis and comments on the Puff time series analysis. This work was supported by the Arctic Region Supercomputer Center, the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska and the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the Volcano Hazards Program, through the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a collaborative effort of the USGS, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Alaska Geological and Geophysical Surveys.


  1. Bailey JE, Dean KG, Dehn J, Webley PW (2010) Integrated satellite observations of the 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano, chapter 20. In: Power JA, Coombs ML, Freymueller JT (eds) The 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano, Alaska: USGS professional paper 1769, pp 481–506Google Scholar
  2. Corradini S, Merucci L, Prata AJ, Piscini A (2010) Volcanic ash and SO2 in the 2008 Kasatochi eruption: retrievals comparison from different IR satellite sensors. J Geophys Res 115, D00L21. doi: 10.1029/2009JD013634
  3. D’Amours R, Malo A, Servranckx R, Bensimon D, Trudel S, Gauthier-Bilodeau J-P (2010) Application of the atmospheric Lagrangian particle dispersion model MLDP0 to the 2008 eruptions of Okmok and Kasatochi volcanoes. J Geophys Res 115, D00L11. doi: 10.1029/2009JD013602
  4. Dean K, Dehn J, Engle K, Izbekov P, Papp K, Patrick M (2002) Operational satellite monitoring of volcanoes at the Alaska volcano observatory. Adv Environ Monit Modell 1(1):3–35Google Scholar
  5. Dean KG, Dehn J, Papp KR, Smith S, Izbekov P, Peterson R, Kearney C, Steffke A (2004) Integrated satellite observations of the 2001 eruption of Mt. Cleveland, Alaska. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 135:51–73Google Scholar
  6. Dean KG, Schneider D, Osiensky J, Gordeev E, Senyukov S, Rybin AV, Karagusov YV, Terentyev NS, Guryanov V (2011) Monitoring volcanic eruptions using satellite data in the North Pacific region, chapter 9. In: Volcanoes of the North Pacific: observations from space, Springer Praxis, UK (in press)Google Scholar
  7. Draxler RR, Rolph GD (2011) HYSPLIT (hybrid single-particle lagrangian integrated trajectory) model access via NOAA ARL READY website ( NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, Silver Spring, MD
  8. Frogner P, Reynir Gislason S, Oskarsson N (2001) Fertilizing potential of volcanic ash in ocean surface water. Geology 29(6):487–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Guffanti M, Schneider DJ, Wallace KL, Hall T, Bensimon DR, Salinas LJ (2010) Aviation response to a widely dispersed volcanic ash and gas cloud from the August 2008 eruption of Kasatochi, Alaska, USA. J Geophys Res 115, D00L19. doi: 10.1029/2010JD013868
  10. Hamme RC, Webley PW, Crawford WR, Whitney FA, DeGrandpre M, Emerson S, Eriksen C, Giesbrecht K, Gower J, Kavanaugh M, Pena A, Sabine C, Coogan L, Batten S, Lockwood D, Grundle D (2010) The ocean response to a volcanic iron fertilization event in the subarctic North Pacific. GRL 37:L19604. doi: 10.1029/2010GL044629 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Neild J, O’Flaherty P, Hedley P, Underwood R, Johnson D, Christenson B, Brown P (1998) Impact of a volcanic eruption on agriculture and forestry in New Zealand. New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Technical Paper 99/2Google Scholar
  12. Newhall CG, Self S (1982) The volcanic explosivity index (VEI): an estimate of explosive magnitude for historical volcanism. J Geophys Res 87(C2):1231–1238. doi: 10.1029/JC087iC02p01231 Google Scholar
  13. Nye CJ, Queen K, McCarthy AM (1998) Volcanoes of Alaska: Alaska division of geological and geophysical surveys information circular IC 0038, unpaged, 1 sheet, scale 1:4,000,000, at
  14. Papp KR, Dean KG, Dehn J (2005) Predicting regions susceptible to high concentrations of airborne volcanic ash in the North Pacific region. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 148:295–314Google Scholar
  15. Peterson R, Webley PW, D’Amours R, Servranckx R, Stunder B, Papp K (2011) Volcanic ash cloud dispersion models. Chapter 7. In: Volcanoes of the North Pacific: Observations from Space, Springer Praxis, UK (in press)Google Scholar
  16. Prata AJ (1989a) Infrared radiative transfer calculations for volcanic ash clouds. Geophys Res Lett 16:1293–1296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Prata AJ (1989b) Observations of volcanic ash clouds in the 10–12 μm window using AVHRR/2 data. Int J Remote Sens 10:751–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Przedpelski ZJ, Casadevall TJ (1991) Impact of volcanic ash from 15 December 1989 Redoubt Volcano on GE CF6-80C2 Turbofan Engines. In: Casadevall TJ (ed) Volcanic ash and aviation safety: proceedings of the first international symposium on volcanic ash and aviation safety. US geological survey bulletin 2047, pp 129–136Google Scholar
  19. Robock A, Oppenheimer C (eds) (2003) Volcanism and the earth’s atmosphere. Geophysical monograph series, vol 139. American Geophysical UnionGoogle Scholar
  20. Sassen K, Zhu J, Webley PW, Dean K, Cobb P (2007) Volcanic ash plume identification using polarization lidar: augustine eruption, Alaska. Geophys Res Lett 34(8). doi: 10.1029/2006GL027237
  21. Schneider DJ, Rose WI, Kelley L (1995) Tracking of 1992 eruption clouds from Crater Peak vent of Mount Spurr Volcano, Alaska, using AVHRR. US Geol Surv Bull 2139:27–36Google Scholar
  22. Schneider DJ, Bailey J, Dehn J (2008) Satellite-based detection and tracking of volcanic ash clouds from the 2008 eruptions of Okmok and Kasatochi volcanoes, Alaska. American Geophysical Union, fall meeting 2008, abstract #A51 J-06Google Scholar
  23. Searcy C, Dean KG, Stringer W (1998) Puff: a volcanic ash tracking and prediction model. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 80:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Simpson JJ, Hufford GL, Pieri D, Servranckx R, Berg J, Bauer C (2002) The February 2001 Eruption of Mount Cleveland, Alaska: Case Study of an Aviation Hazard. Weather Forecast 17(4):691–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tanaka HL (1994) Development of a Prediction Scheme for Volcanic Ash fall from Redoubt Volcano, Alaska. Proceedings of the first international symposium on volcanic ash and aviation safety. US Geol Surv Bull 2047:283–291Google Scholar
  26. Webley PW, Dean K, Collins R, Fochesatto J, Sassen K, Atkinson D, Cahill C, Prata A (2008) Validation of a volcanic ash dispersion model during late January/Early February 2006 eruption of mount augustine volcano. Bull Am Meteorol Soc. doi: 10.1175/2008BAMS2579.1
  27. Webley PW, Dean KG, Dehn J, Bailey JE, Peterson R (2010) Volcanic-ash dispersion modeling of the 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano using the puff model, chapter 21. In: Power JA, Coombs ML, Freymueller JT (eds) The 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano, Alaska: USGS professional paper 1769, pp 507–526Google Scholar
  28. Webley PW, Lopez TM, Dean KG, Rinkleff P, Dehn J, Cahill CF, Wessels R, Schneider DJ, Ekstrand A, Bailey JE, Izbekov P, Worden A (2011) Remote observations of eruptive clouds and surface thermal activity during the 2009 eruption of Redoubt volcano. In: Peter W, Chris W (eds) J Volcanol Geotherm Res: Special Issue on 2009 Redoubt Eruption, In ReviewGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. W. Webley
    • 1
  • K. Dean
    • 1
  • R. Peterson
    • 2
  • A. Steffke
    • 3
  • M. Harrild
    • 4
  • J. Groves
    • 1
  1. 1.Alaska Volcano Observatory, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai’i at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Department of Geography, Environment and Disaster Management, Faculty of Business, Environment and SocietyUniversity of CoventryCoventryUK

Personalised recommendations