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[en] Large pyroclasts—often called ballistic projectiles—cause many casualties and serious damage on people and infrastructures. One useful measure of avoiding such disasters is to numerically simulate the ballistic trajectories and forecast where large pyroclasts deposit. Numerical models are based on the transport dynamics of these particles. Therefore, in order to accurately forecast the spatial distribution of these particles, large pyroclasts from the 2015 Aso Strombolian eruptions were observed with a video camera. In order to extrapolate the mechanism of particle transport, we have analyzed the frame-by-frame images and obtained particle trajectories. Using the trajectory data, we investigated the features of Strombolian activity such as ejection velocity, explosion energy, and particle release depth. As gas flow around airborne particles can be one of the strongest controlling factors of particle transport, the gas flow velocities were estimated by comparing the simulated and observed trajectories. The range of the ejection velocity of the observed eruptions was 5.1–35.5 m/s, while the gas flow velocity, which is larger than the ejection velocity, reached a maximum of 90 m/s, with mean values of 25–52 m/s for each bursting event. The particle release depth, where pyroclasts start to move separately from the chunk of magmatic fragments, was estimated to be 11–13 m using linear extrapolation of the trajectories. Although these parabolic trajectories provide us with an illusion of particles unaffected by the gas flow, the parameter values show that the particles are transported by the gas flow, which is possibly released from inside the conduit. .
[en] Eruption mass and mass flow rate are critical parameters for determining the aerial extent and hazard of volcanic emissions. Infrasound waveform inversion is a promising technique to quantify volcanic emissions. Although topography may substantially alter the infrasound waveform as it propagates, advances in wave propagation modeling and station coverage permit robust inversion of infrasound data from volcanic explosions. The inversion can estimate eruption mass flow rate and total eruption mass if the flow density is known. However, infrasound-based eruption flow rates and mass estimates have yet to be validated against independent measurements, and numerical modeling has only recently been applied to the inversion technique. Furthermore we present a robust full-waveform acoustic inversion method, and use it to calculate eruption flow rates and masses from 49 explosions from Sakurajima Volcano, Japan.
[en] Volcanic gas composition measurement by Multi-GAS was repeated during the eruptive period in 2014–2015 as well as the quiet period preceding the eruption at Nakadake crater, Aso volcano. The eruptive activity is characterized by continuous ash emission with intermittent Strombolian activity and temporal pauses. Volcanic gas composition measured during the eruptive period showed a rapid and large variation. In particular, the CO2/SO2 and SO2/H2S ratios varied in the rages of 1–8 and 3–300 during the ash eruption with a clear negative correlation. The large variation and the negative correlation of the compositions are attributed to two orders of magnitude difference of degassing pressure, such as 20 and 0.2 MPa; the gases with the large CO2/SO2 and the small SO2/H2S ratios are derived from the high pressure. The rapid and large composition variation suggests frequent ascent of bubbles formed at various depth during the eruption. The maximum CO2/SO2 ratio decreased with decreasing eruption intensity that suggests decrease in contribution of the bubbles derived from a large depth. With time, H2O/SO2 ratio of the gases increases from 30 to > 60, suggesting increase in a hydrothermal contribution. .
[en] Monochromatic infrasound waves are scarcely reported volcanic infrasound signals. These waves have the potential to provide constraints on the conduit geometry of a volcano. However, to further investigate the waves scientifically, such as how the conduit shape modulates the waveforms, we still need to examine many more examples. In this paper, we provide the most detailed descriptions of these monochromatic infrasound waves observed at Aso volcano in Japan. At Aso volcano, a 160-day-long magmatic eruption occurred in 2014–2015 after a 20-year quiescent period. This eruption was the first event that we could monitor well using our infrasound network deployed around the crater. Throughout the entire eruption period, when both ash venting and Strombolian explosions occurred, monochromatic infrasound waves were observed nearly every day. Although the peak frequency of the signals (0.4–0.7 Hz) changed over time, the frequency exhibited no reasonable correlation with the eruption style. The source location of the signals estimated by considering topographic effects and atmospheric conditions was highly stable at the active vent. Based on the findings, we speculate that these signals were related to the resonant frequencies of an open space in the conduit: the uppermost part inside the vent. Based on finite-difference time-domain modeling using 3-D topographic data of the crater during the eruption (March 2015), we calculated the propagation of infrasound waves from the conduit. Assuming that the shape of the conduit was a simple pipe, the peak frequency of the observed waveforms was well reproduced by the calculation. The length of the pipe markedly defined the peak frequency. By replicating the observed waveform, we concluded that the gas exhalation with a gas velocity of 18 m/s occurred at 120 m depth in the conduit. However, further analysis from a different perspective, such as an analysis of the time difference between the arrivals of infrasound and seismic waves, is required to more accurately determine the conduit parameters based on observational data. .
[en] Volcanic tremor is often observed to be associated with an increase in volcanic activity and during periods approaching eruptions. It is therefore of crucial importance to study this phenomenon. The opening of a new vent and subsequent ash–gas emissions was observed in the active crater (Nakadake crater) of Aso volcano, Japan, in January 2014. These events were considered to be associated with phreatomagmatic activity similar to the small events of 2003–2005. During the period from December 2013 to January 2014, a significant variation in the amplitude of continuous seismic tremors was observed corresponding to surficial volcanic activity. We estimated the tremor source locations for this two-month period by a three-dimensional grid search using the tremor amplitude ratio of 5–10 Hz band-pass filtered waveforms. The estimated source locations were distributed in a roughly cylindrical region (100–150 m in diameter) ranging from the ground surface to a depth of 400 m. Migration of the estimated source location was also identified and was associated with changes in volcanic activity. We assumed that the source locations coincided with a conduit system of the volcano, consisting of networks of fractures. This area is likely situated above the crack-like conduit proposed in previous studies. Before the 2014 event, an increase in gas-dominated volcanic fluid first caused an enlargement of the conduit zone, followed by the migration of further magmatic fluid through other pathways, which resulted in a subsequent ash–gas emission. Although we do not have sufficient information to discuss the causal relationship between these processes, it seems reasonable that continuous tremors might change the conduit conditions. .
[en] A hot and acid crater lake is located in the Nakadake crater, Aso volcano, Japan. The volume of water in the lake decreases with increasing activity, drying out prior to the magmatic eruptions. Salt-rich materials of various shapes were observed, falling from the volcanic plume during the active periods. In May 2011, salt flakes fell from the gas plume emitted from an intense fumarole when the acid crater lake was almost dry. The chemical composition of these salt flakes was similar to those of the salts formed by the drying of the crater lake waters, suggesting that they originated from the crater lake water. The salt flakes are likely formed by the drying up of the crater lake water droplets sprayed into the plume by the fumarolic gas jet. In late 2014, the crater lake dried completely, followed by the magmatic eruptions with continuous ash eruptions and intermittent Strombolian explosions. Spherical hollow salt shells were observed on several occasions during and shortly after the weak ash eruptions. The chemical composition of the salt shells was similar to the salts formed by the drying of the crater lake water. The hollow structure of the shells suggests that they were formed by the heating of hydrothermal solution droplets suspended by a mixed stream of gas and ash in the plume. The salt shells suggest the existence of a hydrothermal system beneath the crater floor, even during the course of magmatic eruptions. Instability of the magmatic–hydrothermal interface can cause phreatomagmatic explosions, which often occur at the end of the eruptive phase of this volcano. .
[en] Strombolian explosions are one of the most studied eruptive styles and are characterized by intermittent explosions. The mechanism of a Strombolian explosion is modeled as a large gas pocket (slug) migrating through the magma conduit and then bursting at the air–magma interface. These ascending and bursting processes of the slug induce characteristic seismo-acoustic signals during each explosion: very-long-period (VLP) seismic signals, eruption earthquake signals, and infrasound signals. However, at Stromboli volcano, it has been reported that the ascent velocity estimated from the time differences between observed signals is nearly an order of magnitude higher than that expected from laboratory experiments simulating slug ascent. This discrepancy between observation-based and experiment-based velocities has not yet been fully explained and strongly suggests that the conventional model of Strombolian explosions should be partially revised. In this study, we attempted to validate the model of Strombolian explosions by estimating the gas phase velocity in the conduit in the case of Aso volcano. We recorded seismo-acoustic signals accompanying Strombolian events at Aso volcano, Japan, in late April 2015 via our monitoring network, and the ascent velocity of the gas phase was determined from the difference in arrival times between the VLP signals and the infrasound signals. Our estimated velocity exceeded 100 m/s, which is much faster than the experimental value of 7.5 m/s predicted for Aso volcano. To explain this rapid ascent velocity, we propose a revised model describing the migration of the gas phase via a more complicated mechanism, such as annular flow. In this model, we assumed that the gas phase ascends in the conduit at high velocity while making a pathway leading to the magma surface, most likely due to a temporary increase in the gas flux. Our model will help to deepen the understanding of the complicated dynamics in the magma conduit during a Strombolian explosion. .
[en] The thermal signature of Aso Volcano (Nakadake) during unrest episodes has been analyzed by combining the MODIS-MIROVA data set (2000–2017) with high-resolution images (LANDSAT 8 OLI and Sentinel 2) and ground-based thermal observations (2013–2017). The site of major activity (crater 1) is located at the summit of the volcano and is composed by a fumarole field (located in the South Area) and an acidic lake (replaced by a Central Pit during Strombolian phases). The volcanic radiative power (VRP) obtained by nighttime satellite data during the reference period was mainly below 3 MW. This thermal threshold marks the transition from high fumarole activity (HFA) to Strombolian eruptions (SE). However, periods characterized by sporadic phreatic eruptions (PE, eventually bearing phreatomagmatic episodes), which is the prevalent phase during unrest episodes, exhibit very low VRP values, being around 0.5 MW, or below. The statistical analysis of satellite data shows that the transition from HFA to Strombolian activity (which started on August 2014 and ceased in May 2015) occurs when VRP values are above the cited 3 MW threshold. In particular during marked Strombolian phases (November–December 2014), the radiative power was higher than 4 MW, reaching peak values up to 15.6 MW (on December 7, 2014, i.e., 10 days after the major Strombolian explosion of November 27). Conversely, ground-based measurements show that heat fluxes recorded by FLIR T440 Thermo-camera on the fumarole field of the South Area has been relatively stable around 2 MW until February 2015. Their apparent temperatures were fluctuating around 490–575 °C before the major Strombolian explosive event, whereas those recorded at the active vent, named Central Pit, reached their maxima slightly above 600 °C; then both exhibited a decreasing trend in the following days. During the Strombolian activity, the crater lake dried out and was then replenished by early July, 2016. Then, volcanic activity shifted back to phreatic–phreatomagmatic and the eruptive cycle was completed. During this period, the MIROVA system detected very few thermal alerts and the ground-based measurements were fluctuating around 1 MW. The most violent explosion occurred on October 8, 2016, and within the following weeks measured VRP were moderately above 2 MW. This is coeval with a thermal increase at the fumarole field of the South Area, with temperatures well above 300 °C. Thermal monitoring at Aso Volcano is an additional tool in volcano surveillance that may contribute to near-real-time hazard assessment. .
[en] Continuous measurements of soil CO2 flux are useful for understanding degassing processes and for monitoring volcanic activities. Recent studies at many volcanoes have revealed that soil CO2 flux variations are significantly influenced by environmental parameters as well as volcanic processes. In this study, we conducted continuous monitoring of soil CO2 flux in the flank of Nakadake cone, Aso volcano, Japan, from January 2016 to November 2017. The results of our observations during an active period before and after a large phreatomagmatic eruption on 8 October 2016 and during a calm period from 2017 showed variations in soil CO2 flux due to oscillations in environmental parameters. Excluding these variations from the raw time series by multivariate linear regression analysis, the time series of soil CO2 flux presented some anomalous peaks in both the active and calm periods. Careful comparison of the anomalous peaks with the environmental parameters revealed that most of the anomalous peaks were likely due to an increase in wind speed and/or a decrease in barometric pressure. However, the anomaly after the 8 October 2016 eruption was not completely explicable by the variations in the environmental parameters and coincided with increases in seismic amplitude and plume SO2 flux. This anomaly was possibly attributed to an increase in magmatic CO2 flux. These findings emphasized the importance of careful statistical treatment of the soil CO2 flux data after excluding the influences of the environmental parameters at each measurement site. These statistical treatments will contribute to a better understanding of the degassing processes and monitoring of volcanic activities, including phreatic or phreatomagmatic eruptions. .