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23 May 2013

Starting off the summer with a bang: More man-made maars

Today’s guest post was written by Alison Graettinger, a postdoc in the UB Geology department who’s working with the Center for Geohazard Studies. She was in charge of the series of maar-creation experiments I helped out at a few weeks ago, which are a followup to the experiments that I wrote about last year. She offered to put together this post so you could learn a bit about the science and international collaborations behind the experiments.


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15 November 2012

Mini Maars: A followup

In August, I wrote about some experiments on maar formation being conducted at UB’s facility for experimental volcanology (to which I mainly contributed by digging holes). Well, there were some camera crews around at the time, and we’ve just received the link to the video and interviews they recorded about the experiments!


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10 August 2012

Mini maars

A while back, I wrote about UB’s exciting new facility for experimental volcanology, which is part of our Center For Geohazards Studies. The facility itself isn’t anything like a big fancy laboratory – it’s out in the country and is mainly open space. But that’s a perfect setting for making holes in the ground, which (in a very basic sort of way) was the whole point of the most recent test. Volcanologists and engineers from UB, Italy, and New Zealand were all present for this explosive event:


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31 March 2011

Buffalo gets some (experimental) volcanic action

Volcanic eruptions are both relatively unpredictable and very dangerous, and it’s difficult to collect direct observations of volcanic phenomena. Because of this, volcanologists are always looking for safer and more practical ways of collecting data from volcanic processes. When they can’t derive it from eruptive deposits, they turn to experimentation – usually in a laboratory setting. While this is definitely a useful approach, there are problems inherent in “benchtop” experimentation. Scaling down a volcanic process and using artificial materials (or already-erupted volcanic ones) can have varying effects on the usefulness of the resulting experimental data, something that volcanologists must take into account when drawing conclusions from experiments. Accordingly, a big part of geological experimentation is finding ways to reduce the complexity of natural processes in a way that still produces useful data.

One way to mitigate this problem is to do as little down-scaling as possible. This is the goal of a new experimental facility that the University at Buffalo is developing, and it was the subject of a recent EOS article of which Dr. Greg Valentine, one of the volcanology professors here, is a co-author. The article is “Large-Scale Experiments on Volcanic Processes”, and it ties in with a recent conference our Center for Geohazards Studies coordinated last September.


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