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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr Fabian Wadsworth

Schmid, Diana, Scheu, Bettina, Wadsworth, Fabian B., Kennedy, Ben M., Jolly, Arthur & Dingwell, Donald B. (2017). A viscous-to-brittle transition in eruptions through clay suspensions. Geophysical Research Letters 44(10): 4806-4813.

Author(s) from Durham


Volcanic lakes are often associated with active geothermal circulation, mineral alteration, and precipitation, each of which can complicate the analysis of shallow magma physics, geophysical signals, and chemical signals. The rheology of the lake and associated hydrothermal system affects the eruptive activity as bubbles ascend and burst through the lake producing distinct ejection behavior. We investigate such phenomena by conducting scaled experiments in which heated water‐clay suspensions are decompressed rapidly from relevant pressures. After a jet phase of expanding vapor, the suspensions break up into ejecta that are either angular or droplet geometry. We parameterize these regimes and find a universal clay volume fraction of 0.28 below which the ejecta are form droplets and above which the ejecta are angular. We propose a regime diagram for optical observations of active lakes, which allows rheological characterization and informs volcanic monitoring.