Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 34 n° 316

The impact of hazardous pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) increases with runout distance

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 31 luglio 2022

Which is strongly influenced by the mass flux. This article shows that the mass flux of a PDC may derive not only from vent discharge during the eruption, but also from partly hot, temporary stores (accumulations) of aerated pyroclastic material perched high on the volcano. The unforeseen PDC at Fuego volcano (Guatemala) on 3 June 2018 happened c.1.5 hr after the eruption climax. It overran the village of San Miguel Los Lotes causing an estimated 400+ fatalities. Analysis of the facies architecture of the deposit combined with video footage shows that a pulsatory block-and-ash flow flowed down the Las Lajas valley and rapidly waxed, the runout briefly increasing to 12.2 km as it filled and then spilled out of river channels, entered a second valley where it devastated the village and became increasingly erosive, prior to waning. Paleomagnetic analysis shows that the PDC contained only 6% very hot (>590°C) clasts, 39% moderately hot (∼200°C–500°C) clasts, and 51% cool (<200°C) clasts. This reveals that the block-and-ash flow mostly derived from collapse of loose and partly hot pyroclastic deposits, stored high on the volcano, gradually accumulated during the last 2–3 years. Progressive collapse of unstable deposits supplied the block-and-ash flow, causing a bulk-up process, waxing flow, channel overspill and unexpected runout. The study demonstrates that deposit-derived pyroclastic currents from perched temporary tephra stores pose a particular hazard that is easy to overlook and requires a new, different approach to hazard assessment and monitoring.


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