2005 – A Contribution to Public Safety Studies – Failure Modes and Likelihood Analysis for a Tephra Dam on an Active Volcano

Murray Gillon, Robin Fell, Harry Keys, M Foster

Volcanic eruptions at Mt Ruapehu in 1995-96 resulted in the deposition of about 7m of tephra over the rock rim overflow of Crater Lake. There is a long history of lahars (debris flows) associated with releases of water from Crater Lake. The 1995-96 eruptions emptied the lake and it has slowly been refilling from rainfall runoff and snow melt. When the lake level rises above the rock rim the tephra layer will act as a “barrier” or dam. Breaching of the barrier will release water and generate a lahar. The magnitude of the lahar flow will be a function of the lake level at the time of breaching

Extensive studies of the effects of the lahar that would be generated by the failure of the tephra barrier have been undertaken. The studies included a failure modes and likelihood analysis to provide information on the relative likelihood of failure as the lake level rises for the different failure modes applicable to this situation. The paper describes the failure modes considered and the results of the analysis.

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