Predicting Volcanic Eruptions Using Real-time 4D+ Microscopy of Bubble Interactions in a Solid-Liquid Mush

Lead PI: Einat Lev

Unit Affiliation: Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

May 2017 - April 2019
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Magma, the driver of volcanic eruptions, is a three-phase mixture composed of liquid melt, solid crystals, and gas bubbles. The interaction between these three components determines the style of eruption: a violent explosion, a moderately energetic lava fountain, or a quietly oozing flow. Scientists studying volcanoes have developed theories to describe how particles or bubbles move within a viscous liquid, yet models for the behavior of all three phases together are still lacking. Lab experiments using three-phase mixtures have so far been limited in their ability to directly observe these interactions–experiments have observed flow from the outside of the flow chamber, flows have been limited to only narrow, two-dimensional domains, or three-dimensional images have been made only after flow and interactions have ceased. We will be using a novel microscopy technique (SCAPE) to image, for the first time, the interaction of particles and bubbles suspended in a viscous liquid, in three dimensions and in real time. Our observations will provide constraints to models of three-phase flow and insight into magma dynamics and volcanic eruptions.


Columbia University RISE




Zuckerman Institute


magma modeling microscopy volcanic eruption volcanism


Earth fundamentals