Volcanology Research Projects

Magma intrusion, storage and transport in the crust: Field studies, structural analysis, geomagnetic characterisation, rock mechanics testing and analogue modelling are employed to constrain the plumbing systems of volcanoes, including dyke propagation, magma emplacement in sills and magma withdrawal.

Research conducted in the Field, Experimental Volcanology, MAGMA, Rheometry and Geomagnetism laboratories and led by Janine Kavanagh and Yan Lavallée.

Magma rheology, strength and permeability: We employ a range of multi-parametric experimental techniques, x-ray and neutron tomography, thermography and field surveys of volcanic products to constrain the rheology of magma, its viscosity, its ability to flow or fracture and its permeability. In particular, novel, magma deformation experiments are being conducted in situ during 3D imaging with x-ray tomography at the Diamond light source. These rheological properties are used as first order constraints to model magma transport and volcanic eruption dynamics.

Research conducted using a range of unique apparatuses in the Experimental Volcanology laboratory and led by Yan Lavallée, Jackie Kendrick and Felix von Aulock, in collaboration with University of Manchester and LMU-Munich (Germany). 

Forecasting material failure and geohazards: A range of geohazards are controlled by the structural stability and coherence of material; both rocks and magmas. Mechanical experiments with acoustic monitoring are used to assess our ability to forecast the failure of rocks and magmas over the natural spectrum of stress conditions. The findings help advance our models used to forecast volcanic eruptions, transitions from effusive to explosive eruptions, rock failure, landslides, and engineering structure collapse.

Research conducted in the Experimental Volcanology laboratory by Yan Lavallée, Richard Wall, Jackie Kendrick and Silvio de Angelis, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and LMU-Munich (Germany).

Thermo-mechanical properties of volcanic rocks and their interaction with fluids in geothermal and volcanic areas: Thermal analysis, permeability measurements and high-temperature experimentation are employed to constrain thermal fracturing (columnar jointing) and the mechanical properties of geothermal reservoir rocks, magmatic aureoles and volcanic edifices. The data is used in models to constrain fluid flow and the structural stability of rocks.

This research is entering a new phase of activity with the ICDP-funded Krafla Magma Drilling Project, with the research is conducted in the Field as well as Thermal Analysis, Experimental Volcanology and Rock Deformation laboratories, led by Yan Lavallée and Daniel Faulkner, in collaboration with Landsvirkjun (Iceland), Mighty River Power (New Zealand), GNS (New Zealand), University of Alaska-Fairbanks (USA), BGS, INGV (Italy), LMU-Munich (Germany), EOST-Strasbourg (France) and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). 

Structural controls on volcanic activity: Field studies, remote sensing as well as rock mechanics and analogue experiments are combined to constrain the structural controls on magma transport, eruptive vent locations and volcanic edifice construction. This research aims to integrate micro- to macro-scale observations to improve our understanding of damage zone formation, magma-rock interaction and volcanic vent formation.

Research conducted in the MAGMA and Experimental Volcanology laboratories led by Janine Kavanagh and Yan Lavallée.

Magma dehydration and foaming: Thermal analysis, x-ray tomography, FTIR analysis, optical and thermographic monitoring are used to constrain the solubility of water in silicate melts and glasses as well as the conditions and kinetics of magma dehydration and foaming. The data is used to advance our understanding of fluid transport in magmas and volcanic eruptions.

Research conducted in the Thermal Analysis laboratory by Felix von Aulock and Yan Lavallée.

Glass hydration and sintering in water vapour atmospheres: A range of thermo-analytical methods are employed to constrain the kinetic of glass hydration and its stimulating effects on viscous sintering efficiency. This work impacts our understanding of hydration of old volcanic deposits as well as engineering processes involved in the ceramic and glass industries.

Research conducted in the Thermal Analysis laboratory led by Felix von Aulock and Yan Lavallée, in collaboration with the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and the LMU-Munich (Germany).

Mineral thermal instability: The instability of different minerals (amphiboles, calcite, zeolites, clays) due to temperature fluctuations is experimentally studied to constrain reaction onset temperature and kinetics. The data is used in models to constrain disequilibrium processes in magmas during ascent in conduits as well as in rocks present in active geothermal systems and fault zones.

Research conducted in the Thermal Analysis, Experimental Volcanology and Friction laboratories by Yan Lavallée, Sarah de Angelis, Jackie Kendrick, Elisabetta Mariani and John Wheeler, in collaboration with EOST-Strasbourg (France) and TU-Munich (Germany).

Geophysical monitoring of active volcanoes: Multi-parametric integration of seismic, acoustic, and tilt data as well as remote sensing and thermal imaging are used to closely monitor volcanic unrest, with a focus on magma storage and transport, eruptions and dispersal of ash in the atmosphere.

This is a Field based project led by Silvio de Angelis, Andreas Rietbrock and Yan Lavallée, in collaboration with the University of Colima (Mexico), INSIVUMEH (Guatemala), the University of South Florida (USA), INGV (Italy), Boise State University (USA), and the Smithsonian Institute (USA).

Volcanic ash interaction with jet engines: Volcanic ash ingested in jet engines is subjected to very high temperatures (1200-2000 °C) and melts in a fraction of a second, enabling it to stick to the combustor, clog the ventilation traps and damage the jet engines with potentially catastrophic outcomes.  We employ thermo-mechanical analyses to investigate the fusion process, the sticking ability and the flow behaviour of volcanic ash at conditions simulating the harsh jet engine environment.

Research conducted in the Thermal Analysis and Experimental Volcanology laboratories, led by Yan Lavallée, in collaboration with LMU-Munich (Germany).

Rock friction and seismogenic faulting: Rotary-shear experiments, structural, thermal, geochemical, and geomagnetic analyses as well as rheological work are coupled to constrain the physico-chemical processes dominating during fault friction associated with earthquakes, lava dome eruptions and mass instability.

Work conducted in the Friction and Thermal Analysis laboratories, by Jackie Kendrick, Yan Lavallée, Daniel Faulkner, Andreas Rietbrock, in collaboration with Kochi Core Centre (Japan).

Caldera super-fault activity: The process of caldera subsidence, super-fault propagation and simultaneous explosion of hydrothermal systems is studied using field surveys as well as mechanical testing.

This research is conducted in theField and in the Experimental Volcanology and Rock Mechanics laboratories by Peter Kokelaar, Yan Lavallée and Daniel Faulkner.

Volcanic structure instability: Rock mechanics and friction experiments are coupled with InSAR monitoring and field surveys of collapse scars and debris avalanche deposits to constrain the conditions which lead to destabilisation of volcanic edifices.

This research combines Field studies with experiments conducted in the Friction and Experimental Volcanology laboratories and is led by Jackie Kendrick and Yan Lavallée, in collaboration with EOST-Strasbourg (France), MichiganTech (USA), BGS and INGV (Italy).

Investigating the run-out of particulate materials: Field studies, experimentation, acoustic monitoring and modelling are combined to investigate the controls on run-out behaviour of hazardous particulate flows; including pyroclastic flows, rock falls and lahars.

This research is conducted in the Field and Friction laboratory by Peter Kokelaar, Rob Duller and Silvio de Angelis, in collaboration with the University of Manchester.

Diamond-bearing kimberlite eruptions: Structural and textural analyses are combined with experiments to constrain the physico-chemical processes taking place during deep-seated kimberlite eruptions.

This work is conducted in the Thermal Analysis and Experimental Volcanology laboratories by Janine Kavanagh and Yan Lavallée in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the University of British Columbia (Canada).