The controls of eruption-column dynamics on the injection and mass loading of ash into the atmosphere

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Eruption columns inject large masses of volcanic ash rapidly to levels in the atmosphere where commercial aircraft fly. Ascent velocities of volcanic columns are typically 50 to 200 m/s, resulting in rapid injection (on the order of a few minutes) or large concentrations of ash at heights where aircraft fly. The mass loadings of ash in the umbrella region can vary from 2500 mg m-3 for a 7-km-high column (23 000 ft) to over 20 000 mg m-3 for a 40-km-high (130 000 ft) column, with a linear variation in between. These concentrations are much higher than those known to cause serious problems to aircraft and engine failure. -Authors

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US Geological Survey Bulletin