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Authors: Kueppers, U.* 
Perugini, D.* 
Dingwell, D. B.* 
Title: "Explosive Energy" during volcanic eruptions from fractal analysis of pyroclasts
Issue Date: 30-Aug-2006
Series/Report no.: 248 (2006)
DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.06.033
Keywords: volcanic fragmentation
simulation of eruptions
explosive energy
fragment size distribution
fractal fragmentation theory
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.99. General or miscellaneous 
Abstract: Despite recent advances by means of experiments and high-resolution surveys and the growing understanding of the physical processes before and during volcanic eruptions, duration and type of eruptive activity still remain highly unpredictable. This uncertainty hinders appropriate hazard and associated risk assessment tremendously. In an effort to counter this problem, experimentally generated pyroclasts have been studied by fractal statistics with the aim of evaluating possible relationships between eruption energy and fragmentation efficiency. Rapid decompression experiments have been performed on three differently porous sample sets of the 1990–1995 eruption of Unzen volcano (Japan) at 850 °C and at initial pressure values above the respective fragmentation threshold [U. Kueppers, B. Scheu, O. Spieler, D. B. Dingwell, Fragmentation efficiency of explosive volcanic eruptions: a study of experimentally generated pyroclasts. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 153 (2006) 125–135.,O. Spieler, B. Kennedy, U. Kueppers, D.B. Dingwell, B. Scheu, J. Taddeucci, The fragmentation threshold of pyroclastic rocks. EPSL 226 (2004) 139–148.]. The size distribution of generated pyroclasts has been studied by fractal fragmentation theory and the fractal dimension of fragmentation (Df), a value quantifying the intensity of fragmentation, has been measured for each sample. Results showthat size distribution of pyroclastic fragments follows a fractal law(i.e. power-law) in the investigated range of fragment sizes, indicating that fragmentation of experimental samples reflects a scale-invariant mechanism. In addition, Df is correlated positively with the potential energy for fragmentation (PEF) while showing a strong influence of the open porosity of the samples. Results obtained in this work indicate that fractal fragmentation theory may allow for quantifying fragmentation processes during explosive volcanic eruptions by calculating the fractal dimension of the size distribution of pyroclasts. It emerges fromthis study that fractal dimension may be utilised as a proxy for estimating the explosivity of volcanic eruptions by analysing their natural pyroclastic deposits.
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