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One of the major hazards associated with volcanic eruptions are pyroclastic density currents (PDCs), which are fast-moving volcanic avalanches consisting of ash, boulders, and gas. Because of their unpredictability, studying PDCs in real time is dangerous and difficult. Therefore, we investigate the deposits produced by PDCs and use granular flow experiments to simulate PDCs in the laboratory. The experimental results allow us to understand sediment transport and erosional processes at small scales, and then we can extrapolate those results to natural PDCs. By better understanding what controls PDC behavior, we hope to ultimately improve risk assessment for these dangerous flows.
National Science Foundation Award Number: 1347385