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The influence of topographic roughness on lava flow emplacement

  • M. Elise Rumpf
  • Einat Lev
  • Robert Wysocki
Research Article
  • 227 Downloads

Abstract

A quantitative understanding of the factors controlling lava flow emplacement is critical for both hazard assessment and mitigation and for the interpretation of past flow emplacement conditions. The influence of topography with a vertical amplitude smaller than flow thickness (i.e., substrate roughness) is currently not accounted for in most flow emplacement models and hazard estimates. Here, we measure the effect of substrate roughness on flow emplacement through experiments using analog fluids and molten basalt, complementing recent work on the interaction of lava flows with obstacles taller than flow thickness. We present results from three sets of analog experiments, in which corn syrup, polyethylene glycol, and molten basalt were each extruded onto a sloping plane covered with a series of beds of varying grain sizes. We find that flow front advance rates are impacted by bed roughness for all materials, with decreases in average velocities by up to 50% with increases of substrate grain sizes by 5–100 times, ranges analogous with topographic variations found in nature. These decreases in flow front advance velocities are equivalent to up to an order of magnitude increase in fluid viscosity. We interpret this velocity decrease to be caused by the movement of material into void spaces between substrate grains and by enhanced cooling through heat conduction to the substrate due to increased surface contact area. The difference in advance velocity with increasing grain size diminishes with time after initial emplacement as a basal boundary layer is established. Additionally, the experimental flow geometry, measured by the complexity of the flow external perimeter, became increasingly complex with increasing substrate grain size. This effect will act to both slow the forward advance of lava flows and to create irregular emplacement paths of flows moving over rough surfaces. We propose that flow emplacement models should be modified, possibly through a calibrated “effective viscosity” term, to account for bed roughness to increase accuracy in flow prediction and hazard estimation models.

Keywords

Lava viscosity Lava dynamics and cooling Experimental volcanology Volcano hazards Analog experiments 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank A. Grossberndt, C. Ford, and M. Cooper for help in completing experiments. This work was greatly improved by constructive comments from C.W. Hamilton and L. Kestay as well as careful editorial handling by G. Lube and A. Harris. The use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Funding information

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. EAR-1452748 awarded to MER. EL was funded by NASA Grant No. NNX15AL60G and NSF grant EAR-1654588.

Supplementary material

445_2018_1238_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (119 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 118 kb)
445_2018_1238_MOESM2_ESM.mov (44.5 mb)
Online Resource 1 Video of corn syrup experiment #7. Captured from above by high definition video camera. Corn syrup is red and has been extruded from a vent on the right side of the visible region onto a substrate with GS = 0.115 mm sloped at 7°. (MOV 45560 kb)
445_2018_1238_MOESM3_ESM.mov (296.8 mb)
Online Resource 2 Video of corn syrup experiment #1. Captured from above by high definition video camera. Corn syrup is red and has been extruded from a vent on the right side of the visible region onto a substrate with GS = 1.0 cm sloped at 7°. (MOV 303935 kb)
445_2018_1238_MOESM4_ESM.mov (288.1 mb)
Online Resource 3 Video of polyethylene glycol (PEG) experiment #8. Captured from above by high definition video camera. PEG is green and has been extruded from a vent on the right side of the visible region onto a substrate with GS = 0.115 mm sloped at 7°. (MOV 295003 kb)
445_2018_1238_MOESM5_ESM.mov (365.4 mb)
Online Resource 4 Video of polyethylene glycol (PEG) experiment #1. Captured from above by high definition video camera. PEG is green and has been extruded from a vent on the right side of the visible region onto a substrate with GS = 1.0 cm sloped at 7°. (MOV 374187 kb)
Online Resource 5

Video of molten basalt pour experiment at the Syracuse University Lava Lab Facility. Video captured by iPhone 5S. (MOV 58104 kb)

445_2018_1238_MOESM7_ESM.mov (325.5 mb)
Online Resource 6 Video of molten basalt experiment #6. Captured from above by high definition video camera. Molten basalt is delivered from the furnace via a chute visible on the left hand side of the video frame onto a substrate with GS = 0.5 cm sloped at 9.5°. (MOV 333322 kb)
445_2018_1238_MOESM8_ESM.mov (212.2 mb)
Online Resource 7 Video of molten basalt experiment #1. Captured from above by high definition video camera. Molten basalt is delivered from the furnace via a chute visible on the left hand side of the video frame onto a substrate with GS = 6.4 cm sloped at 9.7°. (MOV 217283 kb)

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Astrogeology Science CenterFlagstaffUSA
  3. 3.School of ArtSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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