Impact of Volcanic Ash on Road and Airfield Surface Skid Resistance
Volcanic ash deposited on paved surfaces during volcanic eruptions often compromises skid resistance, which is a major component of safety. We adopt the British pendulum test method in laboratory conditions to investigate the skid resistance of road asphalt and airfield concrete surfaces covered by volcanic ash sourced from various locations in New Zealand. Controlled variations in ash characteristics include type, depth, wetness, particle size and soluble components. We use Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA) for most road surface experiments but also test porous asphalt, line-painted road surfaces, and a roller screed concrete mix used for airfields. Due to their importance for skid resistance, SMA surface macrotexture and microtexture are analysed with semi-quantitative image analysis, microscopy and a standardised sand patch volumetric test, which enables determination of the relative effectiveness of different cleaning techniques. We find that SMA surfaces covered by thin deposits (~1 mm) of ash result in skid resistance values slightly lower than those observed on wet uncontaminated surfaces. At these depths, a higher relative soluble content for low-crystalline ash and a coarser particle size results in lower skid resistance. Skid resistance results for relatively thicker deposits (3–5 mm) of non-vesiculated basaltic ash are similar to those for thin deposits. There are similarities between road asphalt and airfield concrete, although there is little difference in skid resistance between bare airfield surfaces and airfield surfaces covered by 1 mm of ash. Based on our findings, we provide recommendations for maintaining road safety and effective cleaning techniques in volcanic ash environments.