Showing posts from June, 2015

Basalt wool inspired by Pele

-Alison There are many ways that we can learn from processes in nature. I study volcanoes to understand how they work, but we can also watch volcanic processes to learn how to make neat things that are practical like basalt fiber or basalt wool.  Problem solving for experiments means having the right tools. Never underestimate your need for tape.   When I started my postdoc I never expected how much shopping it takes to make an experiment. I spend a good quarter of my time shopping for materials (natural rock, ping pong balls), tools (from conveyer belts to thermal cameras), and shipping (how to get these things to rural New York). I also spend some of this time on the phone, or in a store, telling a sales person that I will not be using their product the way it was designed and I understand that I will void any warranty, but really I just need to know its voltage, dimension, or stability. This can be quite enlightening, but also distracting.   Lab size

The volcano rock stars of Kamchatka, Russia

- Dr. Janine Krippner I am pretty excited this week. Next week I am flying back to Kamchatka (Russia) for field work. I get to join a team of Russian scientists to look at deposits on Tolbachik volcano which produced a beautiful flank fissure eruption over 9 months, starting November 2012. Tolbachik erupting on 22 December, 2012. Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory . A common reaction I get when I say I am studying a Russian volcano is some variation of "there are volcanoes in Russia?". Yes. Yes there are. And they are amazing! So first off, Kamchatka is the eastern-most peninsula off Russia which sits on top of a subduction zone. Here the Pacific plate moves westward underneath Kamchatka - hence all the volcanic activity. Here, the Map of Active Volcanoes in Kamchatka and Northern Kuriles shows the current activity levels using the aviation color codes . Map of active volcanoes of Kamchatka and Northern Kuriles. Note the subduction zone to the east show

Man Made Maar experiments (the science)

-Alison Experimental volcanology is a pretty fun sounding job description, but it is also one that isn’t as obvious in terms of what that entails. There are a lot of different specialties in volcanology, and the day to day activities for volcanologists can be pretty diverse. You can describe what I do as making deposits from simplified versions of volcanic processes using experiments to understand what evidence is left behind in the rocks. The simplifications mean that I can study the complex phenomena of an explosive eruption in parts, one or two at a time. Then I relate isolated processes to the deposits they form, which I compare to natural deposits that are the result of anywhere between 2 and 10 different processes. Every volcanic rock you see is the result of whatever process gets it out of the ground, some form of transport and then deposition. After that the deposits can be altered through physical processes like erosion by water and wind, chemical breakdown, collapse if