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Abstract

The 2001 eruption of Etna, prior to the flank eruption, has shown an alternation between episodes rich in gas, composed with a series of Strombolian explosions sometimes leading to a fire fountain, and repose periods. The regular alternation results from the coalescence of a foam trapped in the reservoir and periodically rebuilt prior to each episode. The degassing of a magma reservoir depends on bubble diameter, gas volume fraction, surface area and height of the reservoir. These four parameters are deduced from the measured gas flux, the timescale over which the gas flux decreases and the foam dynamics. The dimensionless foam thickness, 0.76 for a purely Strombolian episode, increases to 0.89 for an episode leading to a fire fountain, indicating a more efficient foam coalescence. At Etna, the bubble diameter, gas volume fraction, surface area and height of the reservoir are estimated at 0.50–0.59 mm, 0.25–0.39%, >0.20 km2 and 97–220 m, respectively. At Kilauea, the excellent agreement between the prediction of the foam model, 0.94–1.2 km2 and that resulting from deformations, 1 km2, reinforces the validity of the foam model qualitatively and quantitatively. The thickness of the degassing reservoir, 16–12 m in 1959, is now 1.3–1.1 km.

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