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A detailed view into the eruption clouds of Santiaguito volcano, Guatemala, using Doppler radar


Ziemen,  F.
Ocean Physics, The Ocean in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Earth System Modelling, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Scharff, L., Ziemen, F., Hort, M., Gerst, A., & Johnson, J. (2012). A detailed view into the eruption clouds of Santiaguito volcano, Guatemala, using Doppler radar. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 117: B04201. doi:10.1029/2011JB008542.

Using Doppler radar technology we are able to show that eruptions at Santiaguito volcano, Guatemala, are comprised of multiple explosive degassing pulses occurring at a frequency of 0.2 to 0.3 Hz. The Doppler radar system was installed about 2.7 km away from the active dome on the top of Santa Maria volcano. During four days of continuous measurement 157 eruptive events were recorded. The Doppler radar data reveals a vertical uplift of the dome surface of about 50 cm immediately prior to a first degassing pulse. Particle velocities range from 10 to 15 m/s (in the line of sight of the radar). In 80% of the observed eruptions a second degassing pulse emanates from the dome with significantly higher particle velocities (20-25 m/s again line of sight) and increased echo power, which implies an increase in mass flux. We carry out numerical experiments of ballistic particle transport and calculate corresponding synthetic radar signals. These calculations show that the observations are consistent with a pulsed release of material from the dome of Santiaguito volcano.