Thermal Analysis Laboratory

Room A3.08, Jane Herdman Building

The Thermal Analysis Laboratory was established in 2012 and forms the basis for all high-temperature experimentation on volcanic rocks.

The laboratory

The Analytical Laboratory is based on the third floor of the Jane Herdman Building, and is an environmentally controlled room for the careful analysis of thermo-kinetic changes in crystals, melts and magmas.
Thermal analyses are a standard procedure in material science (e.g., glass, ceramic and food industries) as they provide a fundamental characterisation of the material properties, a matter which is of great importance in volcanology.


  • Thermomechanical analyser (TMA) 402F1 Hyperion (Netzsch GmbH): This apparatus can be used to determine 1) the expansion coefficient, 2) the expansion strain rate, 3) the viscosity of liquids (via the micropenetration technique), and 4) to assess the rheological/mechanical properties of magma and rocks a) in compression, b) in tension, and c) during oscillation. Measurements are traditionally run in Ar or N atmospheres. This high-accuracy dilatometric system is equipped with double furnace hoist to accommodate several furnaces simultaneously, currently:
    • Pt furnace: up to 1500 °C and heating up to 25 °C/min.
    • Si-C furnace: up to 1550 °C and heating up to 40 °C/min.

The range of experimental parameters are as follows:

    • Temperature: <1550 °C (up to 1000 °C/min)
    • Sample length: <30 mm
    • Sample diameter: <10 mm
    • Measuring range: +/- 2.5 mm
    • Length change resolution: 0.0125 nm
    • Compression force: 3mN-3N
    • Tension force: 3mN-3N
    • Modulated force: up to 1 Hz
    • Force resolution: <0.01 mN
    • Vacuum pressure: <10-4 mbar
  • Simultaneous Thermal Analyser (STA) 449F1 Jupiter (Netzsch GmbH): This Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) coupled to a ThermoGravimetric Analyser (TGA) can be used to determine 1) the heat capacity of material, 2) the glass transition, 3) phase changes (e.g., melting, crystallisation, crystal structure transitions), 4) weight gain/loss (e.g., hydration, dehydration, gas exolution, oxidation, decarbonation), and 5) sintering conditions. This system is coupled to a water vapour supplier to allow measurements in water vapour atmosphere as well as in traditional Ar or N atmospheres. Four furnaces are available to allow determination with a range of conditions:
    • Pt furnace: up to 1500 °C and heating up to 25 °C/min.
    • High-speed Pt furnace: up to 1250 °C and heating up to 1000 °C/min.
    • Water-vapour atmosphere furnace: up to 1250 °C and heating up to 25 °C/min.
    • Si-C furnace: up to 1550 °C and heating up to 40 °C/min.

The working conditions of this apparatus are:

    • Sample type: powder, disks, chips
    • Sample weight: <5 g
    • Sample volume: <5ml
    • Weight resolution: 25 ng
    • Vacuum pressure: <10-4 mbar

Key Contacts

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

Dr. Felix von Aulock, PDRA in Experimental Volcanology. Email Felix

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 page.


Recent outputs can be found in the Volcanology Publications page.