Constraining physical parameters of tephra dispersion and deposition from explosive volcanic eruptions is a significant challenge, because of both the complexity of the relationship between tephra distribution and distance from the vent and the difficulties associated with direct and comprehensive real-time observations. Three andesitic subplinian explosions in January 2011 at Shinmoedake volcano, Japan, are used as a case study to validate selected empirical and theoretical models using observations and field data. Tephra volumes are estimated using relationships between dispersal area and tephra thickness or mass/area. A new cubic B-spline interpolation method is also examined. Magma discharge rate is estimated using theoretical plume models incorporating the effect of wind. Results are consistent with observed plume heights (6.4-7.3 km above the vent) and eruption durations. Estimated tephra volumes were 15-34 × 106 m3 for explosions on the afternoon of 26 January and morning of 27 January, and 5.0-7.6 × 106 m3 for the afternoon of 27 January; magma discharge rates were in the range 1-2 × 106 kg/s for all three explosions. Clast dispersal models estimated plume height at 7.1 ± 1 km above the vent for each explosion. The three subplinian explosions occurred with approximately 12-h reposes and had similar mass discharge rates and plume heights but decreasing erupted magma volumes and durations.
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