PLUME-MoM 1.0: A new integral model of volcanic plumes based on the method of moments
Abstract. In this paper a new integral mathematical model for volcanic plumes, named PLUME-MoM, is presented. The model describes the steady-state dynamics of a plume in a 3-D coordinate system, accounting for continuous variability in particle size distribution of the pyroclastic mixture ejected at the vent. Volcanic plumes are composed of pyroclastic particles of many different sizes ranging from a few microns up to several centimeters and more. A proper description of such a multi-particle nature is crucial when quantifying changes in grain-size distribution along the plume and, therefore, for better characterization of source conditions of ash dispersal models. The new model is based on the method of moments, which allows for a description of the pyroclastic mixture dynamics not only in the spatial domain but also in the space of parameters of the continuous size distribution of the particles. This is achieved by formulation of fundamental transport equations for the multi-particle mixture with respect to the different moments of the grain-size distribution. Different formulations, in terms of the distribution of the particle number, as well as of the mass distribution expressed in terms of the Krumbein log scale, are also derived. Comparison between the new moments-based formulation and the classical approach, based on the discretization of the mixture in N discrete phases, shows that the new model allows for the same results to be obtained with a significantly lower computational cost (particularly when a large number of discrete phases is adopted). Application of the new model, coupled with uncertainty quantification and global sensitivity analyses, enables the investigation of the response of four key output variables (mean and standard deviation of the grain-size distribution at the top of the plume, plume height and amount of mass lost by the plume during the ascent) to changes in the main input parameters (mean and standard deviation) characterizing the pyroclastic mixture at the base of the plume. Results show that, for the range of parameters investigated and without considering interparticle processes such as aggregation or comminution, the grain-size distribution at the top of the plume is remarkably similar to that at the base and that the plume height is only weakly affected by the parameters of the grain distribution. The adopted approach can be potentially extended to the consideration of key particle–particle effects occurring in the plume including particle aggregation and fragmentation.