Research attempts to better understand deadly pyroclastic flows
An empty boiler house and 1.5 tons of thick volcanic ash have given researchers at New Zealand's Massey University and Georgia Tech a look into the inner workings of pyroclastic flows in the largest-scale experiments of volcanic flows that have been conducted. They saw something they didn't expect.
Researchers created their own flows with 3,500 pounds of volcanic ash
Credit: Massey University
In a paper published last week by Nature Geoscience, the team describes two separate transport areas that have been well-studied: a non-turbulent underflow and a fully turbulent, ash cloud region at the top of the flow. But volcanic flows apparently have a previously unrecognized third zone where the currents meet.
"Inside this middle zone, the gas-particle mixture behaved fundamentally differently from the turbulent suspension cloud above and the particle-rich avalanche of pumice below," said Massey's Gert Lube. "These mesoscale turbulence clusters control how the internal structure and the damage potential of pyroclastic flows evolves during volcanic events."
Pyroclastic flows, like the ones that covered Pompeii, are avalanches of fast-moving clouds of hot ash, rock and gas that are emitted during eruptions. They are responsible for 50 percent of volcanic fatalities every year.
"Our experiments allow us to better understand the physics of something we'll never see: the inside of an actual volcanic flow," said Massey's Eric Breard, the lead author who will begin a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech in January. "By studying how quickly this mesoscale region grows, and how its dynamics change, it ultimately can tell us how dangerous the flows can be."
To create and measure the flows, the team used Massey's one-of-a-kind eruption simulator. The team climbed a 12-meter tower in a repurposed boiler house and poured more than 3,500 pounds of pumice and ash down a 12-meter narrow chute. High-speed cameras recorded the flow while sensors captured the data.
"These experiments demonstrated that in the intermediate transition zone between the fully turbulent upper part of the flow and the underlying concentrated underflow, the energy from the largest scales of fluid motion is extracted by particles that almost exactly follow the fluid motion," said co-author Josef Dufek, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. "This creates dendritic structures, or waves of particles, that slow the flow down, and provide the rate-limiting step for particles entering the underflow where they can cause the most damage."
"This opens a new path toward reliable predictions of their motion, and will be particularly topical for hazard scientists and decision makers, because they will lead to major revisions of volcanic hazard forecasts and ultimately more effective measures for keeping people safe," said Lube.
Massey and Georgia Tech also received support from scientists at the University of Auckland and State University of New York.
Jason Maderer | EurekAlert!
Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation
Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences