Shedding new light on volcanoes: real time synchrotron x-ray tomography of magmatic phenomena

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Volcanic eruptions are powered by magma. To predict their occurrence the models require an in depth understand and quantitative description of the flow properties of magma during transport and eruption. However, there are many properties of magma we still don't fully understand... What causes magma to ascend and erupt? How does magma flow? Will it erupt as a benign effusion or as a catastrophic explosive event? How long will eruptions last? All these are vital questions to the 10% of the global population that lives in the vicinity of an active volcano.

The magmas that drive these volcanic systems are complex liquids that carry variable amounts of both solid crystals and gas bubbles. It is these crystal and bubble cargos and the interactions between them that control how magma behaves, i.e. whether it will flow or blow. Generally, the more crystalline a magma, the more difficult it is to flow and the more likely it will break; similarly, the more bubbly a magma, the more likely it will blow. Understanding the interactions between the liquid, crystals and bubbles is key to understanding magma behaviour, forming one of the grand challenge of volcanology.

At present experimental studies performed to develop models of magma storage (at depth) and volcanic processes (near/at the Earth surface) have been limited by the fact that traditional methods do not allow us to observe what is happening inside the sample during a test. The technology we propose will transform this, giving us the 3D X-ray glasses needed to see into magmatic flow. This will be done using the UK's synchrotron, Diamond Light Source, combined with an experimental rig that can heat, contain, and flow magma whilst ultra-high speed CAT scans are taken to see in side it. This is called 4D imaging - 3D plus time.

This equipment will enable volcanologists to experimentally deform magma whilst quantifying the interaction between liquid, crystals and bubbles in real-time. The data produced will provide a greatly enhanced understanding of these processes, providing the information needed by other groups to produce detailed new models. This will shed new light on volcanoes, improving our ability to constrain magmatic processes and forecast volcanic eruption.

Planned Impact

This project is technology led, and the first major impact with be the development and validation of a world leading capability. However, it will go beyond producing a novel technology to demonstrate its impact on the research community using two key applications. Therefore, the first group to benefit from the technology developments are the magmatic and volcanic research communities. They will be provided with the tools and methodologies to observe the 3D evolution of microstructures taking place in real time during magmatic processes. This will undoubtedly provide new insight into magmatic processes and advance our understanding of volcanic phenomena. Engagement with the appropriate academic audiences is therefore of critical importance. Engagement with the major research groups working in this area has already been initiated by the investigators, and will be maintained throughout the project by dissemination of information by: articles in the Volcanic & Magmatic Study Group (VMSG) and IAVCEII newsletters that together reach over 1500 international volcanic and magmatic researchers, a project website and an open workshop, in addition to traditional academic publications.

In the longer term, the new technology has the potential to have a significant impact from a wider societal and economic perspective, as over 10% of the world's population lives in the vicinity of an active volcano. Any advancement in our understanding and prediction of volcanic eruptions directly affects of all these people, our second group of beneficiaries. Realising and generating long term societal and economic impact for this group will require the uptake of the technology by the research community. The improved understanding of magma transport they will achieve through this the platform will feed new, more robust and accurate volcanic forecasting models. These models are crucial to the third group of beneficiaries: the decision makers (local and national government, NGO, charitable and other agencies) that develop and implement disaster management and evacuation plans that mitigate local impact on those directly effected, and those decision makers using global climate models to plan for planning more indirect effects such as the wider international impact on food production and transportation needs following of major eruptions (CO2, SO2, and volcanic ash).

In the short term, all of the investigators will be actively involved with outreach and engagement activity promoting STEM and geoscience subjects to the general public at open days, school visits, etc. Such engagement helps inspire and motivate future scientists, and increases general societal scientific awareness.

In terms of a wider scientific perspective, the increase in functionality of the in situ rig and 4D imaging techniques has applications in almost all areas of engineering and materials science, providing a wide scientific benefit well beyond the area of magmatic studies.

Publications

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Bhagavath S (2019) Combined Deformation and Solidification-Driven Porosity Formation in Aluminum Alloys in Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

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Holness MB (2018) Melt segregation from silicic crystal mushes: a critical appraisal of possible mechanisms and their microstructural record. in Contributions to mineralogy and petrology. Beitrage zur Mineralogie und Petrologie

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Holness MB (2019) Magma chambers versus mush zones: constraining the architecture of sub-volcanic plumbing systems from microstructural analysis of crystalline enclaves. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Holness MB (2018) How deceptive are microstructures in granitic rocks? Answers from integrated physical theory, phase equilibrium, and direct observations. in Contributions to mineralogy and petrology. Beitrage zur Mineralogie und Petrologie

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/M013561/1 01/06/2015 31/05/2018 £405,921
NE/M013561/2 Transfer NE/M013561/1 01/06/2018 30/11/2018 £89,338
 
Description An in situ rig (the P2R) which was designed to allow synchrotron x-ray imaging and diffraction of aerospace materials during their manufacture was adapted to heat, pressurise and compress molten magma, simulating conditions of magma rising from 3km down to surface eruption in a volcano. The rig was successfully used to investigate the behaviour of samples from a range of magma from Basalts to Rhyolites , providing new insights into their behaviour. These insights were gained by taking tomograms (or very high resolution CAT scans) ever few seconds allowing the evolution of different phases to be tracked during non-equilibrium conditions. We have discovered that the application of strain can massively accelerate vesiculation. The rig led to new funding via a NSFGeo/NERC grant DisEquilibrium, and through joint use of the grant a wide range of additional key insights have been elucidated.
Exploitation Route The in situ synchrotron x-ray equipment and analysis techniques developed can be used by a wide range of researchers both in the field of volcanology, and in many other areas of earth sciences through to engineering. We hope these findings will help us better forecast eruption behaviour, aiding hazard assessment.
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

 
Description Prof Peter D Lee, Member of STFC Scientific Advisory Board Meeting
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description NSFGEO-NERC Quantifying disequilibrium processes in basaltic volcanism
Amount £1,669,550 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N018575/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 10/2021
 
Description RAEng CiET: Transforming Additive Manufacturing Via Multiscale Imaging (TAMMI)
Amount £2,687,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2029
 
Description ALERT Geomaterials Workshop 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk, Fauchille , 'In-situ accelerated maturation of shale under x-ray tomography' at ALERT Geomaterials Workshop 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://alertgeomaterials.eu/2018/02/alert-geomaterials-workshop-2018/
 
Description Cities on Volcanoes 10 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Torres-Orozco , 'New constraints on vesiculation kinetics in rhyolitic magma degassing from 4D synchrotron microtomography and novel particle-tracking during controlled heating: Implications for eruptive style and intensity'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.citiesonvolcanoes10.com/
 
Description EGU General Assembly 2018: 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Arzilli, Fabio et al; "Rapid growth of plagioclase: implications for basaltic Plinian eruption", EGU General Assembly 2018: , Abstract No. EGU2018-13431.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2018/session/26574
 
Description European Geosciences UnionGeneral Assembly 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PICO presentation of Fast-scan X-Ray Tomography of Imbibition and Drainage in Carbonates by Michael Lacey et al. in in Session IE3.4/TS11.7/GD10.3/GI3.17/GM2.13/GMPV10.7/HS11.3/NH6.4/SSP1.8 - Imaging techniques in laboratory modelling of geological processes (co-organized):
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2018/session/28365
 
Description Invited Talk, Ultrafast X-ray Studies on Dynamic Irrepressible Process 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk, Lee, presented on 'Capturing ultra-fast phenomena during materials processing'. Beijing, Workshop on Ultra-fast dynamic processes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Keynote Speaker, Goldschmidt2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote speaker, Le gall , on 'Tracing magma degassing using experimental approaches' iGoldschmidt 2018 Conf.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://goldschmidt.info/2018/
 
Description Magazine, The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM), Oct 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "UNLOCKING MAGMA'S SECRETS - Peter D Lee, Yan Lavallée and Mike Burtonn describe their new process for understanding how and when violent eruptions might take place
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.iom3.org/materials-world-magazine/feature/2017/oct/01/unlocking-magmas-secrets
 
Description MechEng Night: For The Love of Engineering 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation of Research in our group to the general public in a London West End Theatre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://mecheng.ucl.ac.uk/events/for-the-love-of-engineering/
 
Description Member, STFC Scientific Advisory Board Meeting, Feb 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Professor Peter D Lee invited to be a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the STFC Annual Meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Poster, AGU Fall Meeting 2019, Dec 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Michael Chandler presented a poster at the AGU Fall Meeting, on "In-situ synchrotron X-ray tomography of fluid injection experiments"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm19/meetingapp.cgi/Home/0
 
Description Poster, EGU General Assembly 2019, April 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Fabio Arzilli presented a poster at the EGU General Assembly 2019 on "Highly explosive basaltic eruptions: magma fragmentation induced by rapid crystallisation"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk, "For the love of engineering show - feature a unique blend of short films, music, science comedy and engineering research", UCL, Oct 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Peter D Lee & Le Gall gave a presentation of the research carried out in our group to the general public in a London West End Theatre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://mecheng.ucl.ac.uk/events/for-the-love-of-engineering/
 
Description Talk, 27th International Union Geodesy and Geophysics General Assembly, July 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Yan Lavallée gave a talk at the 27th International Union Geodesy and Geophysics General Assemblyon on "Illuminating shear-induced vesiculation in magma via synchrotron imaging"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://iugg2019montreal.com/
 
Description Talk, Goldschmidt 2019, Aug 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Margherita Polacci gave a talk at the Goldschmidt 2019, on "Crystalisation in basaltic magmas revealed via in situ 4D synchratron X-ray microtomography and implications for lava"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://goldschmidt.info/2019/
 
Description Talk, Goldschmidt 2019, Aug 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Fabio Arzilli gave a talk at the Goldschmidt 2019, on "Highly explosive basaltic eruptions: magma fragmentation induced by rapid crystalisation".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://goldschmidt.info/2019/
 
Description Talk, TERMIS European Chapter Meeting 2019, May 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Helene Autefage et al. gave a talk at TERMIS European Chapter Meeting 2019, on "Strontium-containing porous bioactive glass: an in vivo quantitative and multiscale qualitative assessment of bone formation"
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URL https://termis.org/eu2019/program.php
 
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Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote talk, Lee,, ' In situ and operando synchrotron tomographic characterisation of semi-solid processing' at 6th annual Tomography for Scientific Advancement (ToScA) symposium , Royal Microscopical Society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.rms.org.uk/discover-engage/event-calendar/tosca-2018.html
 
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Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PDL participated in workshop (implementing policy)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019