Marsden success for Dr Gert Lube
8 October 2009
Dr Gert Lube has been awarded funding of $745,000 by the Marsden Foundation for the project "Super-volcanic flows: are they just all hot air?" The project investigates why pyroclastic flows are amongst the most destructive phenomena on earth by modelling such flows in large-scale experiments.
A/Prof Cronin and his team of Dr Gert Lube and Dr Jim Jones (Massey), Prof Armin Freundt (U. Kiel, Germany), Prof Matthias Hort (U. Hamburg, Germany) and Profs Greg Valentine and Marcus Bursik (SUNY Buffalo, USA) were awarded funding for research on pyroclastic density currents. Pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) are common and deadly hazards from volcanoes. They comprise swiftly flowing, hot mixtures of gas and volcanic particles that destroy everything in their path. The violence of the flows makes all means of direct internal measurement impossible, resulting in a poor understanding of their physics and their dynamic properties. The research team will conduct the world’s first experiments scaled to the dynamic conditions within small-volume channelized PDCs. Large-volume, ground-hugging and partially hot flows of up to 5 m3 of natural volcanic materials will be generated in the experiments. An array of geophysical sensors will capture the internal properties of these PDC-analogues, resulting in a new fundamental understanding of their physics. These data will be built into testable mathematical relationships describing the internal structures and modes of gas-particle interaction in PDCs, addressing a long-standing argument in volcanology and opening a path toward reliable hazard forecasting.