Friction Laboratory

Room LG.01, Harrison Hughes Building

The Friction Laboratory was established in 2014 as part of the ERC starting grant Strain Localisation in Magmas and enjoys strong links to the Experimental Volcanology laboratory.

The laboratory

A friction experiment that led to melting, conducted on andesite from Volcán de Colima at a slip rate of 1 m/s and axial load of 2 MPa.

The Friction Laboratory is run by the School of Environmental Sciences but is based in the Harrison Hughes Building (part of the ).

The Friction Laboratory is a dedicated space for the study of the frictional properties of rocks and magmas. We are able to study granular materials (gouge) as well as coherent material (rocks, glasses, ceramic, metals), including at high starting temperature (1100 oC) in our unique experimental set-up.


  • Low to High Velocity Rotary (LHVR) Shear Apparatus (Marui): Built in 2013 to a unique specification, this friction apparatus enables the study of friction and rheology in torsion. The capabilities of the apparatus are:
    • Velocity: 1.5x10-6 – 1. 5x103 rpm (equivalent to slip rates of millimetres per year to metres per second).
    • Sample sizes: D24.99 mm and 39.99 mm
    • Normal force: <10 kN
    • Experimental Temperature: <1200 °C, thanks to a Severn Thermal Solutions furnace and Inconel mechanical sample grips.

Thermographic images of a friction experiment

Thermographic images of a friction experiment on a basalt that melts along the contact. We use thermographic cameras to monitor heating rate and maximum temperature along the slip zone.

The range of experimental parameters enables the study of slow creep deformation, magmatic shearing, viscous magma ascent, faulting, sector collapse or pyroclastic run-out. This apparatus is complemented by supporting monitoring equipment including thermographic cameras and acoustic emission set-up hosted in the Experimental Volcanology laboratory. 

Key Contacts

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

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

Research Projects

This facility is central to many research goals and topics across the volcanology group, details of which can be found in our Research Projects page.


Recent outputs can be found in the Volcanology Publications page.