Cooling Rates of Spatter Deposits

Primary Author: Claire Puleio

Faculty Sponsor: Catherine Cooper


Primary College/Unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

Category: Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Campus: Pullman




Principal Topic

Magmatic spatter deposits form during volcanic eruptions wherein molten lava is projected from the volcano. The molten lava is erupted in fragments (clasts) and is deposited in the area immediately surrounding the eruptive vent of the volcano. These clasts can pile upon each other and form cone-like structures. Magmatic spatter occurs when erupted lava is hot enough to deform and adhere to other erupted clasts (agglutinate). The deformation and agglutination of spatter clasts have important implications regarding how spatter can transition from a stable deposit to a lava flow. When spatter re-melts and flows it can cause sudden collapse of the cone-like structures and quickly damage infrastructure or cause bodily harm to those in the path of the flow.



A two-dimensional thermal diffusion model has been created in this study to predict how long it takes for spatter clasts to cool sufficiently enough that they no longer pose the risk of re-melting and forming a lava flow. This model predicts how spatter clasts cool over time when subjected to conduction, convection, and radiation and is applied to scenarios in which multiple spatter clasts of the same temperature are placed on top of one another.



The model described in this research provides an indication for when the spatter deposit will cool sufficiently enough to stabilize. This research increases the understanding of magmatic spatter as well as the likelihood for associated volcanic hazards such as sudden collapse of spatter deposits and the rapid formation of lava flows.