Grain size distribution uncertainty quantification in volcanic ash dispersal and deposition from weak plumes
Pardini F., A. Spanu, M. de’ Michieli Vitturi, M. Vittoria Salvetti, A. Neri (2016).
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
We present the results of uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis applied to volcanic ash dispersal from weak plumes with focus on the uncertainties associated to the original grain size distribution of the mixture. The Lagrangian particle model Lagrangian Particles Advection Code is used to simulate the transport of inertial particles under the action of realistic atmospheric conditions. The particle motion equations are derived by expressing the particle acceleration as the sum of forces acting along its trajectory, with the drag force calculated as a function of particle diameter, density, shape, and Reynolds number. Simulations are representative of a weak plume event of Mount Etna (Italy) and aimed at quantifying the effect on the dispersal process of the uncertainty in the mean and standard deviation of a lognormal function describing the initial grain size distribution and in particle sphericity. In order to analyze the sensitivity of particle dispersal to these uncertain variables with a reasonable number of simulations, response surfaces in the parameter space are built by using the generalized polynomial chaos expansion technique. The mean diameter and standard deviation of particle size distribution, and their probability density functions, at various distances from the source, both airborne and on ground, are quantified. Results highlight that uncertainty ranges in these quantities are drastically reduced with distance from source, making them largely dependent just on the location. Moreover, at a given distance from source, the distribution is mostly controlled by particle sphericity, particularly on the ground, whereas in air also mean diameter and sorting play a main role.