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Fowler, A. C.; Scheu, Bettina (2016): A theoretical explanation of grain size distributions in explosive rock fragmentation. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society A-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 472, No. 2190, 20150843
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Abstract

We have measured grain size distributions of the results of laboratory decompression explosions of volcanic rock. The resulting distributions can be approximately represented by gamma distributions of weight per cent as a function of phi = -log(2) d, where d is the grain size in millimetres measured by sieving, with a superimposed long tail associated with the production of fines. We provide a description of the observations based on sequential fragmentation theory, which we develop for the particular case of 'self-similar' fragmentation kernels, and we show that the corresponding evolution equation for the distribution can be explicitly solved, yielding the long-time lognormal distribution associated with Kolmogorov's fragmentation theory. Particular features of the experimental data, notably time evolution, advection, truncation and fines production, are described and predicted within the constraints of a generalized, 'reductive' fragmentation model, and it is shown that the gamma distribution of coarse particles is a natural consequence of an assumed uniform fragmentation kernel. We further show that an explicit model for fines production during fracturing can lead to a second gamma distribution, and that the sum of the two provides a good fit to the observed data.