Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A numerical model for the cooling of a lava sill with heat pipe effects

July 16, 2021

Understanding the cooling process of volcanic intrusions into wet sediments is a difficult but important problem, given the presence of extremely large temperature gradients and potentially complex water-magma interactions. This report presents a numerical model to study such interactions, including the effect of heat pipes on the cooling of volcanic intrusions. Udell (1985) has shown that heat pipes may develop in heated saturated granular media under laboratory conditions. In previous work, Baker and others (2015) calculated temperatures in the vicinity of a volcanic sill that intruded into wet sediment, showing an unexpected temperature profile in which peak temperatures remained near constant over a region extending a meter above and below the sill. This is challenging to explain with conduction or convection heating methods but is predicted if the heat transfer is performed primarily by a heat pipe. We have numerically modeled the cooling of a lava sill under similar circumstances, using the experimental findings of Udell (1985) to estimate the characteristics of the heat pipe. We have constructed a model using Microsoft C#.NET, complete with an intuitive graphical user interface. The model is available from the U.S. Geological Survey and is capable of being run on Microsoft Windows 7 and higher with modest hardware. We find that the resulting overall temperature profile has some key similarities to the profile inferred by Baker and others (2015). Future models including more detailed convective heat transfer physics will be necessary to fully reproduce the effects of boiling in sediments.

Publication Year 2021
Title A numerical model for the cooling of a lava sill with heat pipe effects
DOI 10.3133/tm13B2
Authors Kaj E. Williams, Colin M. Dundas, Laszlo P. Kestay
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Techniques and Methods
Series Number 13-B2
Index ID tm13B2
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center