Advances in the study of volcanic ash



Every month, small-scale explosive volcanic eruptions inject more than a million cubic meters of ash into Earth's atmosphere [Simkin and Siebert, 2000]. Of all the troubles caused by this relatively mild volcanic activity, ashfall is by far the longest-reaching one, mantling the volcano slopes and surroundings with a slippery, heavy, unhealthy, and snow-like but Sun-resistant cover.

Volcanic ash is composed of pyroclasts (fragments generated and emplaced by explosive eruptions) smaller than 2 millimeters, which are easily transported by wind and have a high surface-to-volume ratio. These same features, however, also allow safe collection of the ash away from the volcano. Such pyroclasts bear the signature of the fragmentation and dispersal processes they have experienced during eruption and transport. Thus, volcanic ash provides sample material well suited for studying quasi time correlated eruption dynamics [Taddeucci et al, 2002].