Dr Gerald Ernst


Department of Geology & Soil Science
University of Ghent
Krijgslaan 281 S8
9000 Gent

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Research Expertise


  • How fine ash is generated by magma fragmentation
  • What controls how much of it there is and what its characteristics are
  • How it is transported and interacts with water phases in eruption columns
  • How it is dispersed on a large scale and subsequently resuspended
  • What controls the rapidity of formation and residence time of acidic aerosol particles

These issues relate to what controls the abundance and residence time of fine ash and other toxic volcanic particles in suspension in the air. I am also interested in: assembling and analysing more extensive and relevant datasets on ash dispersal; integrating field sampling, direct observations, lab experiments and indirect observations from satellite and radar instruments. Analyses of satellite data are crucial to constrain the amount of fine ash and its residence time and how widely it is dispersed, as well as for testing ash dispersal models. It is also crucial because fine ash is not only a potential hazard on the ground but also for the international traffic of jet aircrafts.

Relevant Publications


Textor C, Ernst GGJ (2003) Comment on "Particle aggregation in volcanic eruption columns" by Graham Veitch and Andrew W. Woods, Journal of Geophysical Research, 106 (B11), 26.425-26.441, 2001. J Geophys Res, in review

Durant AJ, Ernst GGJ (2003) Formation of accretionary lapilli as volcanogenic hailstones. Bull Volcanol, in review

Textor C, Graf H-F, Herzog M, Oberhuber JM, Rose WI, Ernst GGJ (2003) Volcanic particles in explosive eruption columns. Part I: Parameterisation of ash aggregation. J Volcanol Geotherm Res, in review (accepted with minor revisions, under revision)

Textor C, Graf H-F, Herzog M, Oberhuber JM, Rose WI, Ernst GGJ (2003) Hydrometeor-ash particle growth in volcanic eruption columns. Part II:Numerical experiments. J Volcanol Geotherm Res, in review (accepted with minor revisions, under revision)

Riedel, C, Ernst, GGJ, Riley, M (2003) Review, numerical and experimental study of the controls on growth and geometry of pyroclastic ejecta cones. J Volcanol Geotherm Res, in review (accepted with minor revisions)

Rose, WI, Gu, Y, Watson, IM, Yu, T, Bluth, GJS, Prata, AJ, Krueger, AJ, Krotkov, N, Carn, S, Fromm, MD, Hunton, DE, Ernst, GGJ, Viggiano, AA, Miller, TM, Ballentin, JO, Reeves, JM, Wilson, JC, Anderson, BE, Flittner, DE (2003) The February-March 2000 eruption of Hekla, Iceland from a satellite perspective. AGU Monography on Volcanism and Atmosphere, in press

Dartevelle, S, Ernst, GGJ, Stix, J, Bernard, A (2002) Origin of the Mount Pinatubo climactic eruption cloud: Implications for volcanic hazards and atmospheric impacts. Geology 30: 663-667

Rose, WI, Bluth, GJS, Schneider, DJ, Ernst, GGJ, Riley, CM, Henderson, LJ, McGimsey, RG (2001) Observations of volcanic clouds in their first few days of atmospheric residence: The 1992 eruptions of Crater Peak, Mount Spurr volcano, Alaska. J Geology 109: 677-694

Rose, WI, Bluth, GJS, Ernst, GGJ (2000) Integrating retrievals of volcanic cloud characteristics from satellite remote sensors: A summary. Phil Trans R Soc Lond A358: 1585-1606

Bonadonna, C, Ernst, GGJ, Sparks, RSJ (1998) Thickness variations and volume estimates of tephra fall deposits: The importance of particle Reynolds number. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 81: 173-187

Ernst, GGJ, Bursik, MI, Carey, SN, Sparks, RSJ (1996) Sedimentation from turbulent jets and plumes. J Geophys Res 101: 5575-5589

Rose, WI, Delene, DJ, Schneider, DJ, Bluth, GJS, Krueger, AJ, Sprod, I, McKee, C, Davies, HL, Ernst, GGJ (1995) Ice in the 1994 Rabaul eruption cloud: Implications for volcanic hazard and atmospheric effects. Nature 375: 477-479

Ernst, GGJ, Davis, JP,Sparks, RSJ (1994) Bifurcation of volcanic plumes in a crosswind. Bull Volcanol 56: 159-169

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Latest News


Download our pamphlets on preparing for ashfall and on the health hazards of ash. They are designed for mass distribution at the onset of new eruptions. They are now avaiable in English, Japanese, French Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Indonesian and Icelandic with Italian versions being available shortly. Please see our Pamphlets page for further infomation.





IVHHN has an article under the Guidelines tab which used to be called 'Recommended Face Masks'. This has now been updated to 'Information on face masks' and is an interim page whilst the Health Interventions in Volcanic Eruptions project investigates which types of respiratory protection are effective in protecting the general population from volcanic ash inhalation. Please note that the translations in Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese have not yet been updated.



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