Numerical modeling of lava flow dynamics

I use large-scale experiments with basaltic melts to study the dynamics of flow emplacement and the rheology of lava.

At the Lava Project experimental facility at Syracuse university, we melt natural basalts at temperatures over 1350°C. We then pour the lava onto sand, steel, and even ice, and study the behavior. The flows are documented using video and infrared cameras, allowing us to study the physical properties of the lava.

I use computer vision methods to extract detailed surface velocity fields of flowing lavas and of lava lakes. This information is then used to constrain the mechanical properties of lava. We applied this technique to experimental and natural flows alike. The image shows the velocity field of cascading lava flow at Hawaii's Puu O'o volcano.

The emplacement of lava flows depends on the interaction between lava properties (temperature, rheology, effusion rate), the existing terrain, and how they all evolve over time.

I focus on including complex rheologies into numerical models of flow emplacement, as well as on correctly modeling the interaction of flows with their environment. The image shows a numerical simulation of an experiment ran at Syracuse, of a lava flow diverging around an obstacle.

Experimental Physical Volcanology

Video Velocimetry of magmatic processes