Volcanic Ash as an Active Agent in the Earth system (VA^3): Combining Models and Experiments

Ash plume from Lascar volcano, Chile, October 2015; Photo by Guy Brasseur

Volcanic ash emission, dispersion and deposition can lead to widespread impacts upon different components of the Earth system (atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere), which are directly linked to the physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of the ash. In particular, ash surface characteristics play a key role in its interaction with the surrounding environments. To investigate the volcanic and atmospheric processes that shape these properties, numerical models and experimental techniques have been developed and deployed by different research groups.

The VAworkshop held at University of Hamburg, Germany, in September 2016, gathered some leading volcanic ash research groups from EU and US in order to integrate the recent developments in this field and to foster the collaborations. The workshop was jointly organized by the Institutes of Geophysics and Geology, University of Hamburg and was attended by 30 participants including 12 early career scientists. This meeting incorporated discussions on the volcanic ash life cycle, hazards and impacts from experimental, observational, and modeling perspectives involving specialists from geochemistry, geology, volcanology, and atmospheric sciences. There were 4 sessions each including 2x30 minutes lectures and 60 minutes discussion in order to address:

  1. State-of-the-art and future directions
  2. Premier knowledge gaps and the potential theoretical and experimental solutions

  3. Essential considerations to foster model-experiment coupling in volcanic ash research

The workshop emphasized that addressing the challenges in volcanic ash surface characterization requires close collaboration of experts in laboratory experiments, in-situ measurements, space-based observations, and numerical modeling. By integrating and sharing the existing data and experiences, these communities can co-develop reliable assessment tools and mechanisms for both fundamental research and operational purposes. To establish such an alliance, the following actions are suggested:

  1. To initiate a collaborative network with two working groups: a) Physical Life Cycle of Volcanic Ash  and b) Geochemical Life Cycle of Volcanic Ash
  2. To develop the integrated modeling, observational, and experimental data compilation on mid- to large intensity eruptions to assist the benchmark modeling
  3. To conceptualize, and organize an EGU/AGU joint session to foster model-experiment coupling in volcanic ash research

These actions will be linked to the existing activities within IAVCEI, EGU and AGU.

Acknowledgment: The workshop was supported by excellence cluster CliSAP (DFG EXE 177).

For more info contact Dr. Ali Hoshyaripour (gholamali.hoshyaripour@uni-hamburg.de)