The 1982 eruptions of El Chichon volcano, Mexico (2): Observations and numerical modelling of tephra-fall distribution

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Tephra fallout from the A-1 (March 29, 0532 UT), B (April 4, 0135 UT), and C (April 4, 1122 UT) 1982 explosive eruptions of El Chichon produced three tephra fall deposits over southeastern Mexico. Bidirectional spreading of eruption plumes, as documented by satellite images, was due to a combination of tropospheric and stratospheric transport, with heaviest deposition of tephra from the ENE tropospheric lobes. Maximum column heights for the eruptions of 27, 32, and 29 km, respectively, have been determined by comparing maximum lithic-clast dispersal in the deposits with predicted lithic isopleths based on a theoretical model of pyroclast fallout from eruption columns. These column heights suggest peak mass eruption rates of 1.1 × 108, 1.9 × 108, and 1.3 × 108 kg/s. Maximum column heights and mass eruption rates occured early in each event based on the normal size grading of the fall deposits. Sequential satellite images of plume transport and the production of a large stratospheric aerosol plume indicate that the eruption columns were sustained at stratospheric altitudes for a significant portion of their duration. New estimates of tephra fall volume based on integration of isopach area and thickness yield a total volume of 2.19 km3 (1.09 km3 DRE, dense rock equivalent) or roughly twice the amount of the deposit mapped on the ground. Up to one-half of the erupted mass was therefore deposited elsewhere as highly dispersed tephra. © 1986 Springer-Verlag.

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Bulletin of Volcanology