GEL 109 report

GEL 109 report - The Power of Pyroclastic Flows Abstract...

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The Power of Pyroclastic Flows Abstract Volcanoes are one of Earth’s most powerful natural disasters. They have occurred throughout history and some have impacted the territory and life around them. Some of the impacts have been preserved and can be studied by looking at the rock record. An example of this is the deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that covered her nearby cities in a blanket of ash. I take a look at what happened during this eruption and what controlled and affected this eruption. Introduction In 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted, devastating the nearby landscape. While many cities felt the wrath of the mountain, two in particular was consumed by its sheer power. These cities were Pompeii and Herculaneum. Mount Vesuvius erupted in a Plinian-style eruption. This eruption type is very explosive and violent releasing immense amounts of ash and tephra resulting in pyroclastic flows. Both Pompeii and Herculaneum were covered within a forty-eight hour period by volcanic ash due to a series of pyroclastic flows. Pyroclastic Flows and the 79 A.D. eruption A Pyroclastic flow can take many different forms. The type that occurred on 79 A.D. was consistent with a Plinian eruption. In a Plinian eruption, an enormous column of ash, tephra, and gas are shot into the atmosphere more than ten kilometers high into the stratosphere. In this case, it is estimated that the ash column went as high as thirty-two kilometers. These ash columns are extremely dense and if convection currents produced by the blast cannot support the suspended material, then the column will eventually collapse on itself due to gravity (Figure 1a, 1b). When this occurs the falling material blasts down the slopes of the mountain creating a pyroclastic flow
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or surge. These flows can travel with speeds over one hundred kilometers per hour at temperatures as high as one thousand degrees Celsius. They can deposit material ranging from
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course GEL 109 L taught by Professor Sumner during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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GEL 109 report - The Power of Pyroclastic Flows Abstract...

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