Statistics and modelling of the influence of the volume, fall height and topography on volcanic debris avalanche deposits
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
This research project on volcanic debris avalanches aims to provide a better understanding of the influence of the volume, fall height and topography on the deposit location and morphology. This will enable improvements in delineation of the areas at risk from volcanic debris avalanches, and improvements in management of a disaster should it occur. Undertaken to fulfil the requirements for a double degree (Geological Engineering and MSc in Hazard and Disaster Management) this work is the result of a collaboration between Polytechnic Institute LaSalle-Beauvais in France and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Following a brief introduction to the topic, statistical analyses of volcanic debris avalanche deposits are undertaken. Multiple variables analyses (Principal Components Analyses and Regressions) were carried out using a database of 298 volcanic debris avalanches derived from modification of Dufresne’s recent database. It was found that the volume has the main influence on the deposits rather than the fall height; the latter seems to have greater effect on avalanches of small volume. The topography into which the deposit is emplaced mainly determines its geometrical characteristics. These statistical results were compared with the results of laboratory-scale analogue modelling. A model similar to that used by Shea in 2005 provided data indicating similar trends of the influence of volume, fall height and topography on mass movement deposits at all scales. The final aspect of this project was a numerical simulation of a large debris avalanche from the north flank of the Taranaki volcano in the direction of the city of New Plymouth. The numerical code VolcFlow developed by Kelfoun in 2005 was used, after being tested against the laboratory experiments to verity its accuracy. The simulations showed that the Pouaki range protects the city of New Plymouth form major impacts from Taranaki collapses, but also indicated some potential problems with the hazard zoning and evacuation zones presently in place.