During explosive eruptions, airborne particles collide and stick together, accelerating the fallout of volcanic ash and climate-forcing aerosols. This aggregation process remains a major source of uncertainty both in ash dispersal forecasting and interpretation of eruptions from the geological record. Here we illuminate the mechanisms and timescales of particle aggregation from a well-characterized 'wet' eruption. The 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, incorporated water from the surface (in this case, a glacier), which is a common occurrence during explosive volcanism worldwide. Observations from C-band weather radar, fall deposits and numerical modelling demonstrate that hail-forming processes in the eruption plume triggered aggregation of ∼95% of the fine ash and stripped much of the erupted mass out of the atmosphere within 30min. Based on these findings, we propose a mechanism of hail-like ash aggregation that contributes to the anomalously rapid fallout of fine ash and occurrence of concentrically layered aggregates in volcanic deposits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy