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Ground based -but not so- remote sensing of eruption dynamics at Volcán de Colima, Mexico
23.05.2017, 09:30 - 10:30
Geb. 6.42, Raum 001

Volcán de Colima is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico. Because of its eruptive style, which reaches from lava extrusion (mainly as a dome within the crater) interspersed by Vulcanian explosions to dome destroying Plinian eruptions accompanied by pyroclastic flows, it possesses a major thread to local population. Up to now, reliable forecasting of possibly hazardous events is impossible because we still lack some pieces of the puzzle. To better understand this volcano's activity, we set up a Doppler radar monitoring station: A ground based remote sensing tool to measure the amount and velocity of volcanic particles. The Doppler radar was continuously observing the crater for more than one year, day and night. Using statistical analysis of time intervals between eruptions, we found that, despite a significant increase in activity between the years 2014 and 2015, the underlying processes leading to eruptions possibly remained the same. The best fitting probability distribution is a log-logistic distribution, which indicates that two competing processes influence the timing of eruptions.
During the increase in activity, Volcán de Colima also produced pyroclastic flows. On Nov. 21, 2014, one of them travelled down the south flank exactly towards the Doppler radar. This pyroclastic flow is the first and - although several other pyroclastic flows have been reported later - the only one that has been observed with a Doppler radar. Our data shows that this pyroclastic flow travelled down the flank with 25-50 m/s for at least 2.5 km and luckily stopped several hundred meters before reaching the radar. Unfortunately, another one destroyed the radar six months later.

Dr. Lea Scharff
Universität Hamburg
Geophysikalisches Institut (GPI)
Hertzstrasse 16
76187 Karlsruhe
E-Mail:webmasterOvc9∂gpi kit edu
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