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Forecasting volcanic ash dispersal and coeval resuspension during the April-May 2015 Calbuco eruption

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Atmospheric dispersion of volcanic ash from explosive eruptions or from subsequent fallout deposit resuspension causes a range of impacts and disruptions on human activities and ecosystems. The April–May 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile involved eruption and resuspension activities. We overview the chronology, effects, and products resulting from these events, in order to validate an operational forecast strategy for tephra dispersal. The modelling strategy builds on coupling the meteorological Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF/ARW) model with the FALL3D dispersal model for eruptive and resuspension processes. The eruption modelling considers two distinct particle granulometries, a preliminary first guess distribution used operationally when no field data was available yet, and a refined distribution based on field measurements. Volcanological inputs were inferred from eruption reports and results from an Argentina–Chilean ash sample data network, which performed in-situ sampling during the eruption. In order to validate the modelling strategy, results were compared with satellite retrievals and ground deposit measurements. Results indicate that the WRF-FALL3D modelling system can provide reasonable forecasts in both eruption and resuspension modes, particularly when the adjusted granulometry is considered. The study also highlights the importance of having dedicated datasets of active volcanoes furnishing first-guess model inputs during the early stages of an eruption.

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