Falling and deposited ash can result in adverse conditions and delays for marine transportation.
- Volcanic ash can clog air intake filters in a matter of minutes, crippling airflow to vital machinery. Ash particles are very abrasive, and if they get into an engine's moving parts, quickly causing damage.
- Ashfall can be corrosive to metal, or other exposed shipboard equipment.
- Certain types of volcanic ash do not disperse easily in water, instead clumping on the surface of water bodies in pumice rafts. These rafts can clog salt-water intake strainers very quickly, which can result in overheating of shipboard machinery dependent on seawater service cooling.
- Ashfalls can reduce visibility to less than 1/2 mi (800 m), which is a hazard to navigation. This, combined with the above three other main impacts make sailing in the vicinity of volcanic ash very dangerous for mariners.
There are other ways ash can impact marine transport as shown on the National Weather Service – Ocean Prediction Center website.
During the 2008 Cháiten eruption, marine transport was used extensively during the large-scale evacuation. Small outboard motors were severely abraded and cooling and exhaust vents clogged by floating ash and pumice. Larger vessels were also damaged from ash and pumice being sucked into the sale water system, clogging sea strainers resulting in engine overheating (Wilson et al., 2012).
Marine transportation is a future topic identified for impacts research and development of mitigation advice.
If you have any information related to volcanic ash impacts to marine transportation please contact us via email.