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Journal Article

The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation?


Bagheri,  Gholamhossein
Laboratory for Fluid Physics, Pattern Formation and Biocomplexity, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Rossi, E., Bagheri, G., Beckett, F., & Bonadonna, C. (2021). The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation? Nature Communications, 12: 1303. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-21568-8.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-4D7C-8
A large amount of volcanic ash produced during explosive volcanic eruptions has been found to sediment as aggregates of various types that typically reduce the associated residence time in the atmosphere (i.e., premature sedimentation). Nonetheless, speculations exist in the literature that aggregation has the potential to also delay particle sedimentation (rafting effect) even though it has been considered unlikely so far. Here, we present the first theoretical description of rafting that demonstrates how delayed sedimentation may not only occur but is probably more common than previously thought. The fate of volcanic ash is here quantified for all kind of observed aggregates. As an application to the case study of the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano (Iceland), we also show how rafting can theoretically increase the travel distances of particles between 138–710 μm. These findings have fundamental implications for hazard assessment of volcanic ash dispersal as well as for weather modeling.