Multiphase-flow numerical modeling of the 18 May 1980 lateral blast at Mount St. Helens (USA)


Thirty years after the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, supercomputer simulations have allowed us to reproduce and analyze the large-scale features of the May 18 blast, which devastated a wide area of 600 km2 north of the volcano and killed fifty-seven people.
Initial conditions, triggering the violent explosion of the magmatic mixture, have been derived from the wide geological dataset available for this eruption, which is one of the most studied and documented in volcanology.
The three-dimensional computer model was then able to describe the propagation of the eruptive cloud, made up of high-temperature gases, ash, pumices and rocks fragments, over the mountainous region surrounding the volcano, and to correctly reproduce the flow front velocity, runout (the maximum distance reached by the cloud) and impact.
The results demonstrate that, where detailed geological constraints are available and thanks to the availability of high-performance supercomputers, physical models can fairly accurately reproduce the main large-scale features of blast scenarios. Such an improvement in modeling capability will make it possible to more effectively map potential blast flows at blast-dangerous volcanoes worldwide.


It’s alive! Virtual eruptions on a supercomputer


Volcanoes are not all alike: some like Mount Etna erupt frequently, while others such as Vesuvius seem quiescent, but their geological history teaches us that they can erupt even after a long period of time. The eruption that awakens them is often explosive and can project large amounts of gas and ash into the atmosphere. When this material flows along the flanks of the volcano pyroclastic flows form: these are very hot, dense, fast-moving clouds that destroy everything in their path.


Special Issue on “Unmanned Aerial Systems and Digital Terrain Modeling” – Call for Paper

E’ aperta la Call for papers della Special Issue Unmanned Aerial Systems and Digital Terrain Modelingde MDPI open access journal Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292, Impact Factor 3.406, che ha come Guest Editors Alessandro Fornaciai, Luca Nannipieri e Massimiliano Favalli dell’INGV e Nicole Richter del Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise.