Volcanic Plume Height Measured by Seismic Waves Based on a Mechanical Model

Volcanic Plume Height Measured by Seismic Waves Based on a Mechanical Model Ground displacement at 1 s period of co-eruptive seismicity with distance from Kasatochi volcano for the large ash producing explosion at 2008. Large dots are broadband stations ATKA and AMKA. Small dots are short-period stations. Preferred forward model fit shown with solid line.
<p>
In August 2008 an unmonitored, largely unstudied Aleutian volcano, Kasatochi, erupted catastrophically. Here we use seismic data to infer the height of large eruptive columns, like those of Kasatochi, based on a combination of existing fluid and solid mechanical models. In so doing, we propose a connection between common observable, short-period seismic wave amplitude, to the physics of an eruptive column. To construct a combined model, we estimate the mass ejection rate of material from the vent based on the plume height, assuming that the height is controlled by thermal buoyancy for a continuous plume. Using the calculated mass ejection rate, we then derive the equivalent vertical force on the Earth through a momentum balance. Finally, we calculate the far-field surface waves resulting from the vertical force. Physically, this single force reflects the counter force of the eruption as material is discharged into the atmosphere. We explore the applicability of the combined model to relatively high frequency seismic waves recorded at ~ 1 s. The model performs well for the 2008 eruption of Kasatochi volcano and the 2006 eruption of Augustine volcano. The consistency between the seismically inferred and measured plume heights indicates that in these cases the far-field 1 s seismic energy radiated by fluctuating flow in the volcanic jet during eruption is a useful indicator of overall mass ejection rates. Use of the model holds promise for characterizing eruptions and evaluating ash hazards to aircraft in real time based on far-field short-period seismic data.</p>

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