This Doctorial Thesis investigates the fundamental problem of flow and deposition processes of unsteady, inertial flows of granular media and elucidates its implications for the behaviour of pyroclastic flows formed in explosive volcanic eruptions. A three-fold approach is followed including laboratory experiments, their theoretical analysis, and field work on the pristine pyroclastic flow deposits of the 1975 eruption of Mt. Ngauruhoe (New Zealand). The experiments are based upon the physical problem of the sudden collapse of vertical columns of granular media onto a base and their subsequent spreading behaviour. Through investigations of the pyroclastic flow deposits of the 1975 eruption of Mt. Ngauruhoe, first complete data sets of the internal structure and grain-size distribution and the morphology of the upper free surface of small-volume pyroclastic flow deposits as a function of travel distance, underlying slope and topographic confinement are presented. This detailed data set is interpreted using the experimental findings on the propagation of an internal interface, and a qualitative time- and space-dependent model on transport, segregation and deposition is developed for pyroclastic flows.