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Physical modelling of lava flows
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Supervisor:Kerr, Ross Griffiths, Ross
Subject keywords: Volcanoes,Deep Earth/Continent evolution,Ocean dynamics/fluid dynamics,Physics,Laboratory,Experimental,
Degree types: Honours,PhD,
Lava flows contribute to the surface morphology of large areas of the earth, both on continents and on the seafloor, and other planets. They are also sites for the formation of nickel and platinum ore deposits. They may also be used to make inferences about past volcanic activity.
Staff in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics have been studying the dynamics of lava flows through laboratory fluid dynamics analog modelling and theoretical descriptions. This has proven a powerful approach and has shown that the morphology of lava flows is closely controlled by both the eruption rate and surface cooling. Many different types of lava flows can now be seen as members of a sequence of dynamical regimes. The work has involved some of the first ever studies of cooling and solidifying gravity currents.
There are many outstanding questions concerning both melting of underlying rock, solidification of the flow, and mechanisms controlling the cooling of large channel flows. The work may involve interaction with volcanologists from the USA. Contact: Dr Ross Kerr, Professor Ross Griffiths.