Volcano Research

Roughness of Silicic Lava Flows

I am using a DJI Phantom Pro 2 drone to image the surfaces of recent silicic lava flows in the western US. These images will be used to develop high-resolution topography using structure-from-motion software, an amazing new advance for those of us who study lava flow surfaces. Click below to see a drone flyover of an amazing lava flow in Northern California.

LiDAR Mapping of the Overlook Crater and Lava Lake, Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

My former students Adam Lewinter and David Finnegan teamed up with colleagues from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory to study the Overlook Crater and lava lake at Kilauea volcano. We have a new paper that was recently published on this research (Lewinter et al., 2020 – see Publications). Below is a time-lapse GoPro video I took of the lava lake as the sun set. Below that is a video fly through of the lava lake that Adam created from the LiDAR data. The third video links to a BBC broadcast VolcanoLive that featured some of this work.

Time-lapse video of the Kilauea lava lake

Using Artificial Intelligence to Relate Lava Lake Thermal Patterns to Eruption Conditions

My former graduate student Amy Burzinski (UNC 2016) competed her masters work on using Self Organizing Maps (a form of AI) to look at thousands of thermal images of the lava lake at Kilauea. She related the patterns found on the surface of the lake to eruption variables such as degassing, seismicity, and tilt. The hope is that we can simply look at the patterns on the surface of the lava lake and know something about the seismicity, gas levels, and other aspects of the volcano’s behavior. Left is a photo of the lava lake surface at night showing a pattern with large crustal plates that move across the surface. Amy’s paper was recently published in a special volume of field volcanology (Burzinski et al., 2018 – see Publications)

Field Guide for silicic lava flows and domes at Newberry, South Sister, and Medicine Lake volcanoes, California and Oregon

I worked with my former graduate advisor Jon Fink (Portland State and University of British Columbia) to develop a field guide for some amazing lava flows in the Pacific Northwest in conjunction with a major conference on volcanoes (IAVCEI 2017) in Portland. We led a 5 day field trip with more than 20 international volcanologists to some of these flows in Oregon and California. We published this field guide in 2017 and it’s available free to the public (see Fink and Anderson, 2017 in Publications, or click Below)

The 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska

In 2009, a series of lava domes that formed at Mount Redoubt, Alaska were destroyed by explosions. We investigated the only remaining lava dome from this eruption for clues as to why the others were destroyed. We collected samples of the dome and compared them to samples we collected from Mount St. Helens (WA) and Santiaguito (Guatemala) and it appears as though the magma at Redoubt is extremely gas-rich, which causes eruptions to fluctuate between explosions and extrusions. I worked with colleagues from the Alaska Volcano Observatory to publish a paper on this eruption (see Bull et al., 2012 in Publications).

How do tumuli form?

Tumuli are 2 to 5 meter high squeezed up mounds of lava that are common on the flows in Hawaii, and evident in images of lava flows on Mars. We studied the formation of active tumuli in Hawaii, mapped their locations on flows in Hawaii and at Mount Etna, and published a model for how they form. See Anderson et al., 2012 in Publications.

Tumuli formation at Mount Etna

For several years I had the pleasure of working in the field with the late John Guest of the University College of London on a project at Mount Etna. Along with Angus Duncan and Ellen Stofan, we studied an odd tumulus that formed in an a’a flow, something that we had not observed before. We published two papers on what we learned in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research (see Duncan et al., 2012; and Guest et al., 2012 in Publications)

The Mount Shiveluch lava dome, Kamchatka, Russia

Probably my most memorable field adventure occurred in 2012 when I traveled to Kamchatka with one of my best friends and colleague Mike Ramsey of the University of Pittsburgh to study several active volcanoes, including Mount Shiveluch and Mount Kizimen. We spent the better part of a week studying these volcanoes with our Russian colleagues Marina and Sasha Belousov. We published the results of our Shiveluch work, and are still working on the Kizimen project (see Ramsey et al., 2012 in Publications). Below is a collage of my favorite shots from this trip

Blocky lava flows

I’ve spent a good part of my career working on some of the most miserable terrains imaginable – blocky lava flows. A number of my past research projects focused on these flows. I’ve published two papers on block sizes (Anderson et al., 1998, Bulmer et al. 2005), another paper on a structure commonly found on these flow surfaces (crease structures – Anderson and Fink, 1992), and 5 more papers on lava flow textures (Anderson et al., 1994; 1995; Anderson and Fink, 1989; 1990, and Fink et al., 1992). The Anderson and Fink (1989) was my first published paper, and was the cover article in Nature.

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