Experimental Volcanology and Geothermal Research Laboratory

Room AG. 03, Jane Herdman Building

The Experimental Volcanology and Geothermal Research Laboratory was founded in 2012 and has since become one of the largest facilities of its kind; it is a central hub of Volcanology at Liverpool.

The laboratory

The Experimental Volcanology and Geothermal Research Laboratory is based on the ground floor of the Jane Herdman Building. Recent technological advances now enable experimentation on natural rocks and magmas at volcanically relevant temperature, pressure and stress conditions, leading to some of the most exciting findings in the field of volcanology. With these advances, we can quantitatively describe fundamental mechanical law underlying volcanic activity monitored daily at volcano observatories.

Equipment

  • MAGDA (Magma Deformation Apparatus) / High-T, High-Pressure Triaxial Press(Sanchez Technology): This apparatus can be used to deform rocks and magma in compression and tension. The confining pressure as well as the pore pressure can be controlled; fluid flow in the pore space further allows the determination of the pore volume as well as the permeability of material during deformation at high temperatures. The system includes two lateral extensometers to monitor bulging/ thinning of the sample. The press also accommodates two acoustic emission sensors (to be upgraded to eight) to monitor cracking events during deformation. The range of experimental parameters are as follows:
    • Temperature: 1000 °C
    • Confining pressure: < 100 MPa
    • Compressive stress: < 300 MPa
    • Tensile stress: < 300 MPa
    • Pore pressure: < 100 MPa
    • Fluid flow: 0.001 to 110 cc/min
    • Strain rate: 10-7~10-1 s-1
    • Sample size: H50 mm, D25 mm

MAGDA-high-T-high-P-triaxial-deformation-apparatus.

MAGDA: high-T, high-P triaxial deformation apparatus.
  • High-T Uniaxial Press(Instron 8862): This apparatus was built in 1985 and fully retrofitted in 2013, it can be used to deform rocks and magma in compression and oscillation. The press also accommodates two acoustic emission sensors to monitor cracking events during deformation and a radial extensometer when used at room-T. The range of experimental parameters are as follows:
    • Temperature: <1000 °C
    • Compressive stress: 100N-100kN
    • Strain rate: 10-6~10-1 s-1
    • Sample size: H<100 mm, D <60 mm
  • High-T Benchtop Uniaxial Press(Instron 5969): This apparatus can be used to deform rocks and magma in compression and tension. The furnace hosts a sapphire window, which allows us to film sample deformation and fracture propagation with thermographic images. The press also accommodates two acoustic emission sensors to monitor cracking events during deformation. The range of experimental parameters are as follows:
    • Temperature: <1200 °C
    • Compressive stress: 50N-50kN
    • Strain rate: 10-6~10-1 s-1
    • Sample size compression: H<80 mm, D<40 mm
    • Sample size tension: H<160 mm, D10-16 mm

Instron Benchtop Uniaxial Press in tension configuration with FLIR thermograohic camera monitoring

Instron Benchtop Uniaxial Press in tension configuration with FLIR thermograohic camera monitoring.
  • Hydrostatic Permeameter (Sanchez Technologies): This pressure vessel allows determination of gas or water permeability at a wide range of confining pressures. The range of experimental parameters are as follows:
    • Confining Pressure: 1-100 MPa
    • Pore Pressure: 1-100 MPa
    • Temperature: room
    • Sample size: D25mm, L50mm
  • GasPerm permeameters (Vinci Technologies): These nitrogen permeameters can be mounted with a suite of pressure vessels that allow quick and automated permeability determination at constant flow rate and for a wide range of confining pressures and samples sizes. The range of experimental conditions are as follows:
    • Confining Pressure: 1-100 MPa
    • Pore Pressure: 1-100 MPa
    • Temperature: room
    • Sample size: D25mm, L50mm
    • Low-pressure core holders: (Confining pressure: 0.3 – 2 MPa, Flow rate: 0.5 – 600 cc/min, Temperature: room, Sample size: D 25mm; L 25-75mm and D 38mm; L 25-75mm) 
    • High-pressure core holder: (Confining pressure: 1 – 70 MPa, Flow rate: 0.5 – 600 cc/min, Temperature: room, Sample size: D 25mm; L 25-75mm)

 

GasPerm low pressure permeameter (Vinci).

GasPerm high pressure permeameter (Vinci).

  • Box furnace (Carbolite): With a maximum temperature of <1400 °C and volume of 23 L this furnace allows for thermal stressing of large samples, melting of magma batches and preparation of synthetic melts all whilst monitoring with a thermographic camera through the sapphire window.
  • Tube furnace (Severn Thermal Solutions): Custom-built in 2013 this furnace has 2 windows to monitor samples whilst heating to <1200 °C. This can also be fitted with extensometers or Ultrasonic Velocity sensors to monitor Vp/ Vs during heating.
  • FLIR Thermographic Camera (X6540sc BB R&D): This high-speed thermographic camera is for monitoring experiments for accurate temperature determination. The specification of the camera is as follows:
    • Resolution 640x512 pixels
    • Frame rate: 125 to ~4200 Hz
    • Pixel size: 15 microns
    • Calibrated <2500 °C
    • Accuracy: +/- 0.1 °C
  • Acoustic Emission (AE) monitoring system (Mistras) 
  • Helium Pycnometer (Micromeritics AccuPyc II 1340):Used to measure the skeletal volume of solids, which can be employed to assess the density and in turn the connected porosity of materials. Our facility has 2 units that allow simultaneous measurement (with 5 chamber sizes) and uses helium, which allows gas penetration into most of the smallest pores of samples. Working conditions:
    • Sample capacity of units: 10 to 100 cm3
    • Reproducibility: +/- 0.02% 
  • High-speed optical camera (Nikon D800 DSLR): with 24-70mm f2.8 and 105 mm f2.8 lenses for high resolution field and sample photography, high resolution time-lapse image analysis in field and experiments and photogrammetry and stereo imaging.
  • Other Facilities: As well as the other Rock Preparation and Microscopy Facilities, we also have a range of laptops, cameras and tripods, drying ovens, balances, air compressors, vacuum cupboards, power tools and other equipment to ensure the smooth running of the laboratory. 

Key Contacts

Prof. Yan Lavallée, Chair of Volcanology and Magmatic Processes. Email Yan

Dr. Jackie Kendrick, PDRA in Experimental Volcanology. Email Jackie

Research Projects

This facility has been funded in-part by the ERC Starting Grant Strain Localisation in Magmas (SLiM) and is central to many research goals and topics across the volcanology group, details of which can be found in our Research Projects page.

Publications

Recent outputs can be found in the Volcanology Publications page.