UAF scientist creates synthetic magma to study volcanoes

The Augustine volcano is located in the southern Cook Inlet region of Alaska. Jessica Larsen will be using the volcano as an example for her Science for Alaska Lecture. Photo credit to David Schneider, a scientist from the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The Augustine volcano is located in the southern Cook Inlet region of Alaska. Jessica Larsen will be using the volcano as an example for her Science for Alaska Lecture. Photo credit to David Schneider, a scientist from the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Josh Hartman / Sun Star

Jessica Larsen, a professor at UAF, studies the “magma plumbing system” of active volcanoes around Alaska in order to better predict where and when volcanic eruptions will occur as well as better understanding how they work. She will present her research and other information about volcanoes in her lecture: “Exploring the subterranean realms of Alaska’s active volcanoes.” The lecture will be held at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel’s Gold room on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. 

One of the most interesting parts of her research, according to Larsen, is the fact that the Geophysical Institute has its own experimental petrology lab where they create tiny synthetic samples of magma. The synthetic magma is heated up and compressed and decompressed, similar to how it would be in the bowels of volcano.

Using this information Larsen and her colleagues use the synthetic magma to try discern what happens in natural volcanic systems.

In terms of volcano research UAF provides a lot of value the state of Alaska with tools like the petrology lab, according to Larsen.

Alaska has 52 active volcanoes and only about 27 of them are monitored by the Alaska Volcano Observatory, according to Larsen.

People interested in learning more about active volcanoes in Alaska can go to the Alaska Volcano Observatory’s website.

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