Estimating the volume of tephra deposits: a new simple strategy
Bonadonna, C. and Costa, A. (2012) Estimating the volume of tephra deposits: a new simple strategy. Geology, 40 (5). pp. 415-418. ISSN 0091-7613
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1130/G32769.1
Volume determination of tephra deposits is necessary for the assessment of the dynamics and hazards of explosive volcanoes. Several methods have been proposed during the past 40 years that include the analysis of crystal concentration of large pumices, integrations of various thinning relationships, and the inversion of field observations using analytical and computational models. Regardless of their strong dependence on tephra-deposit exposure and distribution of isomass/isopach contours, empirical integrations of deposit thinning trends still represent the most widely adopted strategy due to their practical and fast application. The most recent methods involve the best fitting of thinning data using various exponential seg- ments or a power-law curve on semilog plots of thickness (or mass/area) versus square root of isopach area. The exponential method is mainly sensitive to the number and the choice of straight segments, whereas the power-law method can better reproduce the natural thinning of tephra deposits but is strongly sensitive to the proximal or distal extreme of integration. We analyze a large data set of tephra deposits and propose a new empirical method for the deter- mination of tephra-deposit volumes that is based on the integration of the Weibull function. The new method shows a better agreement with observed data, reconciling the debate on the use of the exponential versus power-law method. In fact, the Weibull best fitting only depends on three free parameters, can well reproduce the gradual thinning of tephra deposits, and does not depend on the choice of arbitrary segments or of arbitrary extremes of integration.