An inclined Vulcanian explosion and associated products
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Vulcanian explosions generate some of the most hazardous types of volcanic phenomena, including pyroclastic density currents. Non-vertical directionality of an explosion promotes asymmetrical distribution of proximal hazards around the volcano. Although critical, such behaviour is relatively uncommon and has been seldom documented. Here we present, for the first time, evidence both from geophysical monitoring and field survey data that records the occurrence of such an event. Thermal imagery captures a Vulcanian explosion at Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, which occurred during a large partial lava dome collapse in February 2010, and was inclined at about 25° from the vertical in a northerly direction. Pyroclastic products were preferentially distributed to the north and included: an unusual pumice boulder deposit that we propose was formed by a dilute pyroclastic density current; pumice flow deposits; and a proximal lapilli and block fallout lobe. The inclined nature of the explosion is attributed to the asymmetric geometry around the vent. The explosion-derived pyroclastic density currents had notably lower velocities than those associated with lateral blasts, which, we suggest, result from a separate and distinct mechanism. These inclined explosions present an additional mechanism that is able to generate directed pyroclastic density currents, with consequent implications for hazard assessment.
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