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Stirring up a supervolcano 30 May 2008

Posted by admin in current research, geoscience, volcanoes, volcanology.
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The boundaries of corn-syrup-based volcanological research have been pushed back yet again. Scientists from McGill University and the University of British Columbia have used corn syrup in model volcanoes made of plexiglass to simulate the process through which an ordinary volcano can find itself transformed into the devastating and media-friendly phenomenon known as a supervolcano. An article at ScienceDaily explains:

Using volcanic models made of plexiglass filled with corn syrup, the researchers simulated how magma in a volcano’s magma chamber might behave if the roof of the chamber caved in during an eruption.

‘The magma was being stirred by the roof falling into the magma chamber,” Stix [i.e. Dr John Stix of UBC] explained. ‘This causes lots of complicated flow effects that are unique to a supervolcano eruption.’

Here’s a press release from McGill all about the project. And further coverage can be found at The Canadian Press, in an article described by Dr Erik W. Klemetti as ‘the sort of meaningless, unintelligible science journalism that drives me nuts’.

Grateful thanks to fellow-historian and boundary-crossing scholar Dr Sebastian Normandin, whose blog article on supervolcanoes brought the whole corn syrup thing to my attention.

The Volcanism Blog