Laboratory modelling of magma/fault interactions

Magma propagation through the Earth’s crust is controlled by crustal heterogeneities, e.g. layering in sedimentary basins or volcanic environments. Faults are prominent weaknesses in the Earth crust, however, it remains unclear how faults affect magma transport. For instance, contradicting field studies conclude either that magmas “do not feel faults” or that magma are fully controlled by faults. To address this controversy, laboratory modelling has proven to be a relevant method to reveal the complex mechanisms of magma/fault interactions.

The aim of this MSc project is to explore the processes of magma/fault interactions in order to reveal how faults control magma propagation. The project will be based on a 3-dimensional laboratory apparatus that simulates strike-slip faulting and magma emplacement. The deforming crust is modelled with Mohr-Coulomb granular materials, whereas the magma is modelled with molten vegetable oil. Exploratory laboratory experiments have been performed and showed very promising results.

The magma fault interactions will be assessed via (1) the 3D morphology of the intrusion calculated using Structure-from-motion algorithm, and (2) magma-induced surface deformation using a laboratory geodetic monitoring system based on photogrammetry.

The project will be organized according to the following steps:

  • Design of modelling strategy
  • Running selected series of experiments and data acquisition
  • Data analysis using in-house image analysis tools
  • The physical interpretation of the models
  • Comparison and integration with field examples

The learning outcomes of the project are the following:

  • Modelling design
  • Modelling strategy and parameter study
  • Quantitative data and physical analysis
  • Physics of brittle rock deformation and failure, which is applicable to other geological systems (basin structures, geomechanics)

To implement this project, it is recommended to have:

  • Basic knowledge in programming skills, in order to analyze the laboratory data
  • Basic knowledge in brittle rock mechanics

The skills to be acquired during this MSc projects are highly relevant both for academic, geotechnical and consulting careers.

Published Oct. 23, 2020 4:32 PM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2020 4:32 PM

Scope (credits)