Observing volcanic ash plumes and ballistics using Doppler radar



When volcanoes erupt, they often emit coarse rocks with ballistic trajectories that fall onto the slopes of the volcano, as well as a plume of fine ash that drifts into the atmosphere. It can be challenging to monitor both simultaneously and discriminate between the two to collect quantitative data, but Valade and Donnadieu have done that with a ground-based Doppler radar, which they used to make measurements of smallscale eruptions at Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. They were able to estimate the mass of the ballistic rocks and the mass of ash particles ejected into the atmosphere. Such studies could be useful for understanding and mitigating the hazards associated with volcanic eruptions. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2011GL049415, 2011)