Inviscid behaviour of fines-rich pyroclastic flows inferred from experiments on gas-particle mixtures

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Experiments were carried out on granular flows generated by instantaneous release of gas-fluidised, bidisperse mixtures and propagating into a horizontal channel. The mixture consists of fine (100 mu m) particles of same density, with corresponding grain size ratios of similar to 2 to 9. Initial fluidisation of the mixture destroys the interparticle frictional contacts, and the flow behaviour then depends on the initial bed packing and on the timescale required to re-establish strong ftictional contacts. At a fines mass fraction (alpha) below that of optimal packing (similar to 40%), the initial mixtures consist of a continuous network of coarse particles with fines in interstitial voids. Strong frictional contacts between the coarse particles are probably rapidly re-established and the flows steadily decelerate. Some internal friction reduction appears to occur as a and the grain size ratio increases, possibly due to particle rolling and the lower roughness of internal shear surfaces. Segregation only occurs at large grain size ratio due to dynamical sieving with fines concentrated at the flow base. In contrast, at alpha above that for optimal packing, the initial mixtures consist of coarse particles embedded in a matrix of fines. Flow velocities and run-outs are similar to that of the monodisperse fine end-member, thus showing that the coarse particles are transported passively within the matrix whatever their amount and grain size are. These flows propagate at constant height and velocity as inviscid fluid gravity currents, thus suggesting negligible interparticle friction. We have determined a Froude number of 2.61 +/- 0.08 consistent with the dam-break model for fluid flows, and with no significant variation as a function of alpha, the grain size ratio, and the initial bed expansion. Very little segregation occurs, which suggests low intensity particle interactions during flow propagation and that active fluidisation is not taking place. Strong frictional contacts are only re-established in the final stages of emplacement and stop the flow motion. We infer that fines-rich (i.e. matrix-supported) pyroelastic flows propagate as inviscid fluid gravity currents for most of their emplacement, and this is consistent with some field data.
Translated title of the contributionInviscid behaviour of fines-rich pyroclastic flows inferred from experiments on gas-particle mixtures
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401 - 414
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume240 (2)
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier


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