Aerodynamic characteristics and genesis of aggregates at Sakurajima Volcano, Japan

Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 7;12(1):2044. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-05854-z.


Aggregation of volcanic ash is known to significantly impact sedimentation from volcanic plumes. The study of particle aggregates during tephra fallout is crucial to increase our understanding of both ash aggregation and sedimentation. In this work, we describe key features of ash aggregates and ash sedimentation associated with eleven Vulcanian explosions at Sakurajima Volcano (Japan) based on state-of-the-art sampling techniques. We identified five types of aggregates of both Particle Cluster (PC) and Accretionary Pellet (AP) categories. In particular, we found that PCs and the first and third type of APs can coexist within the same eruption in rainy conditions. We also found that the aerodynamic properties of aggregates (e.g., terminal velocity and density) depend on their type. In addition, grainsize analysis revealed that characteristics of the grainsize distributions (GSDs) of tephra samples correlate with the typology of the aggregates identified. In fact, bimodal GSDs correlate with the presence of cored clusters (PC3) and liquid pellets (AP3), while unimodal GSDs correlate either with the occurrence of ash clusters (PC1) or with the large particles (coarse ash) coated by fine ash (PC2).