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Effusion rate is a crucial parameter for the prediction of lava-flow advance and should be assessed in near real-time in order to better manage a volcanic crisis. Thermal remote sensing offers the most promising avenue to attain this goal. We present here a ‘dynamic’ thermal proxy based on laboratory experiments and on the physical framework of viscous gravity currents, which can be used to estimate the effusion rate from thermal remote sensing during an eruption. This proxy reproduces the first-order relationship between effusion rate measured in the field and associated powers radiated by basaltic lava flows. Laboratory experiments involving fluids with complex rheology and subject to solidification give additional insights into the dynamics of lava flows. The introduction of a time evolution of the supply rates during the experiments gives rise to a transient adjustment of the surface thermal signal that further compromises the simple proportionality between the thermal flux and the effusion rate. Based on the experimental results, we conclude that a thermal proxy can only yield a minimum and time-averaged estimate of the effusion rate.

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