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From Volcanoes to Vineyards: how lava flows shape the landscape

November 10, 2011

The University of Bristol invites you to a lecture by Katharine V.Cashman, holder of the AXA Chair on volcanic catastrophes.

This lecture will take place at the School of Chemistry of Bristol University on November 10 at 4 pm.

Basaltic lava flows cover much of the Earth’s surface, as well as the surfaces of the other terrestrial planets; thus basalt forms the substrate of many volcanic landscapes (and, often, associated vineyards). The frequency of lava flow activity both threatens nearby communities and provides unique opportunities for volcanologists to study active volcanic processes.

For this reason, two of the earliest volcano observatories were founded at volcanoes with frequent lava flow activity (Vesuvius, Italy, in 1841; and Kilauea, Hawaii, in 1912). These dual motivations – hazard and opportunity – have also made locations of frequent lava flow activity the focal point for testing and applying new innovations in volcano monitoring technology, particularly new methods of remote sensing.

Professor Cashman will review some of these new techniques and place their contribution in the context of the challenges associated with monitoring and predicting lava flow behaviour, which relate not only to the high temperatures and spatial extents of active flows, but also to their dramatic changes in physical properties during emplacement (from liquids with included gas bubbles to dense solids).

Remote sensing observations are also providing us with new perspectives on the post-emplacement evolution of basaltic landscapes, including both their unique hydrological characteristics and key controls on flow revegetation.

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