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Introduction and Rationale

Volcanic eruptions occur by processes that are not fully understood, and are thus as unpredictable as they are devastating. In an attempt to better understand eruption mechanisms and thus begin to accumulate the body of knowledge necessary before eruption prediction can be considered, numerical models are being developed by a growing number of research groups globally. Numerical models are particularly useful because magmatic processes cannot be observed directly, and the complexities of volcanic systems cannot be solved analytically. In addition, numerical methods provide effective visualization tools that help explore the multidimensional parameterizations involved in analyzing volcanic systems. Although the various existing models are based on very different mathematical formulations, they are designed to accomplish the same goal- that of realistically accounting for the processes that drive volcanic eruptions. However, because the models use incompatible sets of magmatic parameters and simulated conduit environments, it is presently impossible to compare and evaluate model results and identify fundamental conceptual weakness that bear further exploration by the research community as a whole. The state of the art has progressed to the point where it would now be very beneficial to be able to explore the sensitivity of modeled volcanic systems to magma parametric values, overall system geometry, and most critically, fundamental physical formulation and underlying assumptions.

In parallel with the efforts of the modeling community, a growing number of experimental results are emerging that bear directly on the parameterization of volcanic eruption models. It is thus possible to abandon many of the "if-then" scenarios traditionally resorted to by modelers, and use real-world values for magma parameters in an attempt to more realistically simulate natural magmatic conditions and thus better understand the processes involved in actual eruptions. Recent advances in observational techniques and analysis of natural volcanic products has also added to the arsenal of information that can be used to better calibrate, constrain and/or evaluate the performance of numerical models.


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Last modified: Tuesday May 08, 2007