Scientific article

Characterization of tephra deposits with limited exposure: the example of the two largest explosive eruptions at Nisyros volcano (Greece)

Published inBulletin of volcanology, vol. 73, no. 9, p. 1337-1352
Publication date2011

Explosive eruptions associated with tephra deposits that are only exposed in proximal areas are difficult to characterize. In fact, the determination of physical parameters such as column height, mass eruption rate, erupted volume, and eruption duration is mainly based on empirical models and is therefore very sensitive to the quality of the field data collected. We have applied and compared different modeling approaches for the characterization of the two main tephra deposits, the Lower Pumice(LP) and Upper Pumice (UP) of Nisyros volcano, Greece, which are exposed only within 5 km of the probable vent. Isopach and isopleth maps were compiled for two possible vent locations (on the north and on the south rim of the caldera), and different models were applied to calculate the column height, the erupted volume, and the mass eruption rate. We found a column height of about 15 km above sea level and a mass eruption rate of about 2×10^7 kg/s for both eruptions regardless of the vent location considered. In contrast, the associated wind velocity for both UP and LP varied between 0 and 20 m/s for the north and south vent, respectively. The derived erupted volume for the south vent (considered as the best vent location) ranges between 2 and 27×10^8 m3 for the LP and between 1 and 5×10^8 m3 for the UP based on the application of four different methods (integration of exponential fit based on one isopach line, integration of exponential and power-law fit based on two isopach lines, and an inversion technique combined with an advection–diffusion model). The eruption that produced the UP could be classified as subplinian. Discrepancies associated with different vent locations are smaller than the discrepancies associated with the use of different models for the determination of erupted mass, plume height, and mass eruption rate. Proximal outcrops are predominantly coarse grained with ≥90 wt% of the clasts ranging between −6phi and 0phi. Theassociated total grainsize distribution is considered to result from a combination of turbulent fallout from both the plume margins and the umbrella region, and as a result, it is fines-depleted. Given that primary deposit thickness observed on Nisyros for both LP and UP is between 1 and 8 m, if an event of similar scale were to happen again, it would have a significant impact on the entire island with major damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and tourism. Neighboring islands and the continent could also be significantly affected.

  • Tephra deposits
  • Explosive volcanism
  • Eruptive parameters
  • Inversion
  • Volume
Citation (ISO format)
LONGCHAMP, Céline Julia et al. Characterization of tephra deposits with limited exposure: the example of the two largest explosive eruptions at Nisyros volcano (Greece). In: Bulletin of volcanology, 2011, vol. 73, n° 9, p. 1337–1352. doi: 10.1007/s00445-011-0469-9
ISSN of the journal0258-8900

Technical informations

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