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Lahar flow simulations using LAHARZ program: Application for the Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico

Muñoz-Salinas, E. and Castillo-Rodríguez, M. and Manea, V. and Manea, M. and Palacios, D. (2009) Lahar flow simulations using LAHARZ program: Application for the Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 182 (1-2). pp. 13-22. ISSN 0377-0273.

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Lahars are a type of catastrophic event that is generated in volcanic environments. Due to the recent technological advances computer simulated models have become widely used by the scientific community to predict the distribution of catastrophic events, such as floods, debris avalanches, earth landslides or lahars, and to mitigate possible damage to populations located in a risk area. Our study risk area is located in the Popocatépetl volcano, a large and active stratovolcano in the Trans Mexican Volcanic Belt. Here, lahars have been occurring during the last century, and some of them have seriously affected nearby towns. Since one of the main input parameters into a lahar simulation is the Digital Elevation Model (DEM), this paper focuses on studying lahar simulations on Popocatépetl using DEMs obtained from various sources with the aid of a popular package known as LAHARZ. The first simulations were performed using a 1:50,000 topographic map with 20-m contours interval. The second set of tests used an enhanced DEM with profiles measured during fieldwork in the lahar channel. In the last set of tests, we added lateral artificial barriers to the channel profiles used in the previous enhanced DEM. Our results show that the use of high resolution and detailed DEMs does not necessarily guarantee a realistic lahar simulation as was previously thought, and a detailed explanation as to why the LAHARZ code computation creates ragged edges is offered. Our results also offer useful information on the level of detail necessary for an input DEM into LAHARZ in order to obtain lahar simulations closer to real lahars. The minimum resolution for the DEM used in simulations must be less than the width of the narrowest cross-section of the channel to realistically reproduce the lahars. For DEMs with lower resolution, sometimes the modeled lahars are shorter in length, and therefore underestimate real hazards to populations. Also, the results show that lateral barriers are sometimes needed to obtain more realistic inundation areas.

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Additional Information:© 2009 Elsevier. Received 28 May 2008; accepted 30 January 2009. Available online 15 February 2009. This work has supported by a grant from the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of Spain (grant AP2002-1764 and project REN2003-6388 and CGL2006-1983). The authors would like to thank Gwenaël Delaite for sharing her expertise in understanding the LAHARZ program and Dr. Lucia Capra's support during the installation of the software. We also thank Dr. Jose Luis Macias, Dr. Joan Marti and one anonymous referee for reviewing the manuscript and suggesting important comments. Finally, authors thank Alicia Ferrero for her English revision.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of SpainAP2002-1764
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of SpainREN2003-6388
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of SpainCGL2006-1983
Subject Keywords:lahar flow simulations; LAHARZ program; Popocatepetl volcano; digital elevation model
Issue or Number:1-2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20090811-101013852
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14950
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Aug 2009 23:05
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 00:53

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