Basaltic volcanism is the most common form of volcanism in the solar system. On Earth, eruptions can impact global and regional climate, and threaten populations living in their shadow, through a combination of ash, gas and lava emissions. The specific risk to the UK from an Icelandic eruption is recognized as one of the four ‘highest priority risks’ in the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies. The impact of an eruption is determined by both intensity and style, ranging from explosive and ash-rich (impacting on air-space access and climate) to effusive and gas-rich (affecting climate, public health and crops/livestock locally and distally).
Understanding these eruptive styles, and their evolution in time and space is key to forecasting the impacts of eruptions.
In order to meet this core aim, we bring together a world-leading team to perform experiments using new, ground-breaking synchroton X-ray imaging and rheometric techniques to visualise and quantify crystallisation, degassing and multiphase, HPHT (high-pressure, high-temperature) viscosity evolution, revolutionising the fields of experimental petrology and HPHT rheometry. We will perform large scale fluid dynamics simulations to inform and test the 3D numerical modelling, and we will constrain fragmentation and eruption column processes with empirical field studies.
Results will be integrated into a state-of-the-art numerical model, and applied to impact-focussed case studies for Icelandic, US and Italian basaltic eruptions. In conclusion, our project will produce a paradigm shift in our understanding of disequilibrium processes during magma ascent and our capacity for modelling basaltic eruption phenomena, creating a step-change in our ability to forecast and quantify the impacts of basaltic eruptions.