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A new $720k 3-year Marsden Fund Project to be run by Dr Shane Cronin (INR Massey) and Vern Manville (IGNS)

31 October 2005

Marsden Fund

In a highly opportunistic experiment, afforded by an expected lahar on Ruapehu volcano, we will develop new techniques for understanding and monitoring geologic mass-flows. Since eruptions of 1996, Crater Lake has risen behind a barrier of loose debris. Sudden failure of this dam to trigger a lahar is expected at any time from late 2005 onward.

Similarly, new eruptions could also generate mass-flows at any time. Making use of this unique environmental circumstance, we will use pre- and post-event aerial LiDAR and digital photographic surveys to analyse post-event changes in channel morphology, sediment erosion and redistribution.

Ruapehu Lahar Simulation
Ruapehu Lahar simulation using Titan2D

In addition, we will develop innovative methods of applying mechanical, electro-magnetic, vibration, and pressure detection systems to understanding the velocities, sediment distribution, flow behaviour and erosion/deposition processes within rapidly moving sediment-water slurries.

The new monitoring systems will be tested in the lab as well as at Ruapehu and a debris flood-prone area at Semeru in Indonesia. These experimental results will form a globally unique dataset to enable the testing of evolving scientific hypotheses of sediment-water flow mechanics. The data will also serve as a global-standard against which the new generation of numerical and physical mass-flow models can be calibrated and refined.