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How can a volcanic eruption's energy be Calculated?

  1. May 12, 2012 #1
    The thread title speaks for itself,I am wondering how I would be able to this.


    Volcano A erupts

    Volcano A yielded 1 kiloton of energy.

    ^^^How would I calculate that? ^^^
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2012 #2
    I have never seen the calculation worked out, but it seems like a good first approximation is to calculate the increase in potential energy of the solid material that emerges used Ep=mgh. You could estimate the mass of the magma/lava from its volume and density (which will vary with magma composition). The change in height would be from the magma chamber to the altitude at which it cools.

    More refined calculations could take into the mass of tephra in the plume and the heat lost as the lava cools. I suspect those contributions will not change order of magnitude, and perhaps give the same value to one significant figure.
  4. May 12, 2012 #3


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    There is Volcanic Explosive Index - http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/images/pglossary/vei.php

    I believe that one option is to calculate the volume of earth ejected from a crater (from before and after pictures) then some assumption of the density is made to calculate the mass and how it was ejected.

    More recently - "Explosive Energy" During Volcanic Eruptions from Fractal Analysis of Pyroclasts
    http://www.earth-prints.org/bitstream/2122/1820/1/subm revised to epsl_Kueppers et al_fractals.pdf
  5. May 16, 2012 #4


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    yes thats true
    one other link I followed the other day was along those lines

    they look at the energy required to lift say 10 cubic km of rock of "x" density to 510m

    its gives a reasonably definitive result.

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