Lirer, Lucio and Petrosino, Paola and Spinelli, Nicola (2009) Applications of the PUFF model to forecasts of volcanic clouds dispersal from Etna and Vesuvio. [Pubblicazione in rivista scientifica]

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Item Type: Pubblicazione in rivista scientifica
Language: English
Title: Applications of the PUFF model to forecasts of volcanic clouds dispersal from Etna and Vesuvio.
Petrosino, PaolaUNSPECIFIED
Spinelli, NicolaUNSPECIFIED
Date: 2009
Number of Pages: 14
Department: Scienze fisiche
Official URL:
Journal or Publication Title: COMPUTERS & GEOSCIENCES
Date: 2009
Volume: 35
Page Range: pp. 1035-1049
Number of Pages: 14
Uncontrolled Keywords: eruptions, airborne ash forecast, simulations, PUFF, Etna, Vesuvio.
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2010 06:57
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2014 19:43


PUFF is a numerical volcanic ash tracking model developed to simulate the behaviour of ash clouds in the atmosphere. The model uses wind field data provided by meteorological models and adds dispersion and sedimentation physics to predict the evolution of the cloud once it reaches thermodynamic equilibrium with the atmosphere. The software is intended for use in emergency response situations during an eruption to quickly forecast the position and trajectory of the ash cloud in the near (~1-72 hour) future. In this paper we describe the first application of PUFF model in forecasting volcanic ash dispersion from the Etna and Vesuvio volcanoes. We simulated the daily occurrence of an eruptive event of Etna utilizing ash cloud parameters describing the paroxysm of 22nd July 1998 and wind field data for the 1st September 2005 - 31st December 2005 time span from the Global Forecast System (GFS) model at the approximate location of Etna volcano (38N 15E). The results show that the volcanic ash particles are dispersed in a range of directions in response to changing wind field at the various altitudes and that the ash clouds are mainly dispersed toward the east and southeast, although the exact trajectory is highly variable, and can change within of a few hours. We tested the sensitivity of the model to the mean particle grain size and found that an increased concentration of ash particles in the atmosphere results when the mean grain size is decreased. Similarly, a dramatic variation in dispersion results when the logarithmic standard deviation of the particle size distribution is changed. Additionally, we simulated the occurrence of an eruptive event at both Etna and Vesuvio, using the same parameters describing the initial volcanic plume, and wind field data recorded for 1st September 2005, at approximately 38N 15E for Etna and 41N 14E for Vesuvio. The comparison of the two simulations indicates that identical eruptions occurring at the same time at the two volcanic centres display significantly different dispersal axes as a consequence of the different local wind field acting at the respective eruptive vent. At Vesuvio volcano, a plinian eruptive event with the dynamical parameters of the 79 A.D. eruption was simulated daily for one year, from 1st July 2005 to 30th June 2006. The statistical processing of results points out that, although in most cases the ash cloud dispersal encompasses many different areas, generally the easterly-southeasterly direction is preferred. Our results highlight the significant role of wind field trends in influencing the distribution of ash particles from eruptive columns and prove that the dynamical parameters that most influence the variability of plume dispersal are the duration of the eruption and the maximum column height. Finally, the possible use of cloud simulations for refining hazard maps of areas exposed to volcanic ash dispersal is proposed.

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