Laboratory Manager: Professor Peter Sammonds
The mechanical properties of volcanic rocks at high temperatures and low pressures are key properties in the understanding of a range of volcanological problems, in particular lava flow dynamics. The measurement of these properties on extrusive volcanic samples under the appropriate pressure and temperature conditions has a direct application in the assessment of volcanic hazards.
High-temperature (700ºC) fracture mechanics apparatus using water/brine or gas as a pore fluid medium (up to 70 MPa) utilizing short rod specimen. This apparatus is used to simulate conditions in a volcanic ediface and lava flows.
A development of the above fracture mechanics apparatus has been to modify it's design to a triaxial deformation cell to obtain mechanical strength data on rock samples at temperatures up to 1000‡C and pressures up to 30 MPa. Significantly, the cell uses large cylindrical rock specimens, 25 mm diameter by 75 mm long, never previously employed in such a high-temperature apparatus. The large specimen size is necessary to test volcanic rocks with their large crystals and vesicles.
Its operating temperature and pressure range encompasses the conditions of an advancing flow from the vent to the front, as well as the conditions of the volcanic rocks hosting magma at equivalent depths of up to 2 km.