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The Soufriere Hills Volcano on Montserrat has produced avalanche-like pyroclastic flows formed by collapse of the unstable lava dome or explosive activity. Pyroclastic flows associated with dome collapse generate overlying dilute surges which detach from and travel beyond their parent flows. The largest surges partially transform by rapid sedimentation into dense secondary pyroclastic flows that pose significant hazards to distal areas. Different kinds of pyroclastic density currents display contrasting mobilities indicated by ratios of total height of fall H, run-out distance L, area inundated A and volume transported V. Dome-collapse flow mobilities (characterised by either L/H or A/V 2/3) resemble those of terrestrial and extraterrestrial cold-rockfalls (Dade and Huppert, 1998). In contrast, fountain-fed pumice flows and fine-grained, secondary pyroclastic flows travel slower but, for comparable initial volumes and heights, can inundate greater areas.
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Mobility of pyroclastic flows and surges at the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat