Mount St Helen Study

Studies of lava spines at Mount St. Helens volcano.

The explosive potential of volcanoes is primarily controlled by the quantity of gas in the magma and its ability to escape. Gas can escape from solidified magma through a network of interlinked cracks, and the ease of escape in this way is known as the permeability. In a recent paper published by Gaunt et al. in Bulletin of Volcanology, studies of lava spines at Mount St. Helens volcano, have revealed that although these fracture-networks are relatively permeable at room temperature, at elevated temperatures such as those found in volcanic conduits, this permeability can be substantially reduced. This results was not expect and means that the permeability and explosion potential can change dramatically with changing environmental conditions. More...

Msc class

Palaeoceanography students newsletter article published.

The students: Paul Bridger, Sinéad Lyster and Abigail Hunt discuss their experiences of using an ocean core replicate during a practical for the Palaeoceanography course (GeolGG17/M018). The core covers an interval of dramatic climate change around 55.8 million years ago, termed the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The students studied the colour changes in the core replica, plotted percent carbonate data and answered a series of questions to determine sedimentological changes through this interval. More...

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Rock & Ice Physics Laboratory

Experimental & theoretical rock physics, ice mechanics & petrologyapplied to planetary dynamics, geohazards, sub-surface reservoirs & ice sheets

The Rock & Ice Physics Laboratory (RIPL) at UCL is a major research facility which forms part of the Earth Sciences Department. RIPL has over 15 members and consists of 11 laboratories, housing over £4M of research equipment., supported by over £2 million of current peer-reviewed funding. The Rock & Ice Physics Laboratory has a unique breadth of experience and ability to design and build its own experimental apparatus.


We study the physical behaviour of ice and rocks that make up the surface and interior of the Earth, and other solid bodies in the solar system, so as to constrain the dynamic, tectonic and environmental processes of planetary evolution. Our research is nationally unique and multi-disciplinary, being based on experiment and theory.