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Stability of volcanic ash aggregates and break-up processes.

Mueller, Sebastian B. and Kueppers, Ulrich and Ametsbichler, Jonathan and Cimarelli, Corrado and Merrison, Jonathan P. and Poret, Matthieu and Wadsworth, Fabian B. and Dingwell, Donald B. (2017) 'Stability of volcanic ash aggregates and break-up processes.', Scientific reports., 7 (1). p. 7440.


Numerical modeling of ash plume dispersal is an important tool for forecasting and mitigating potential hazards from volcanic ash erupted during explosive volcanism. Recent tephra dispersal models have been expanded to account for dynamic ash aggregation processes. However, there are very few studies on rates of disaggregation during transport. It follows that current models regard ash aggregation as irrevocable and may therefore overestimate aggregation-enhanced sedimentation. In this experimental study, we use industrial granulation techniques to artificially produce aggregates. We subject these to impact tests and evaluate their resistance to break-up processes. We find a dependence of aggregate stability on primary particle size distribution and solid particle binder concentration. We posit that our findings could be combined with eruption source parameters and implemented in future tephra dispersal models.

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Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:05 July 2017
Date deposited:18 April 2018
Date of first online publication:07 August 2017
Date first made open access:18 April 2018

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