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Analog experiments of lava flow emplacement

December 31, 2019

Laboratory experiments that simulate lava flows have been in use by volcanologists for many years. The behavior of flows in the lab, where “eruption” parameters, material properties, and environmental settings are tightly controlled, provides insight into the influence of various factors on flow evolution. A second benefit of laboratory lava flows is to provide a set of observations with which numerical models of flow emplacement can be tested. Models of lava flow emplacement vary in mathematical approach, physical assumptions, and computational cost. Nonetheless, all models require thorough testing and evaluation, and laboratory experiments produce an excellent test for models.

This paper provides a primer on modern analog laboratory lava flow experiments. It reviews scaling con- siderations and provides quantitative information meant to guide future experimentalists in designing their experiments to be relevant to natural processes. Traditional and novel laboratory techniques are described, including a discussion of current limitations. New insights from recent experiments highlight the impact of topographic conditions and highlight the importance of considering bed roughness, major obstacles, and slope breaks. The influence of episodic or non-uniform effusion rate is demonstrated through recent experi- mental works. Lastly, the paper discusses several open questions about lava flow emplacement and the ways in which future improvements in experimental methods, such as the ability to utilize three-phase suspensions and materials with complex rheologies and to image the interior of flows could help answer these.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Analog experiments of lava flow emplacement
DOI 10.4401/ag-7843
Authors Einat Lev, M. Elise Rumpf, Hannah R. Dietterich
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Annals of Geophysics
Index ID 70212697
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center