Lahars are among the most catastrophic volcanic processes, and the ability to model them is central to mitigating their effects. Several lahars recently generated by the Popocatépetl volcano (Mexico) moved downstream through the Huiloac Gorge towards the village of Santiago Xalitzintla. The most dangerous was the 2001 lahar, in which the destructive power of the debris flow was maintained throughout the extent of the flow. Identifying the zone of hazard can be based either on numerical or empirical models, but a calibration and validation process is required to ensure hazard map quality. The Geoflow-SPH depth integrated numerical model used in this study to reproduce the 2001 lahar was derived from the velocity–pressure version of the Biot–Zienkiewicz model, and was discretized using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) method. The results of the calibrated SPH model were validated by comparing the simulated deposit depth with the field depth measured at 16 cross sections distributed strategically along the gorge channel. Moreover, the dependency of the results on topographic mesh resolution, initial lahar mass shape and dimensions is also investigated. The results indicate that to accurately reproduce the 2001 lahar flow dynamics the channel topography needed to be discretized using a mesh having a minimum 5m resolution, and an initial lahar mass shape that adopted the source area morphology. Field validation of the calibrated model showed that there was a satisfactory relationship between the simulated and field depths, the error being less than 20% for 11 of the 16 cross sections. This study demonstrates that the Geoflow-SPH model was able to accurately reproduce the lahar path and the extent of the flow, but also reproduced other parameters including flow velocity and deposit depth.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research – Elsevier
Published: Sep 15, 2016
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