Allahabad University team recreates Hawaiian volcanic features in lab
This would help researchers and students to better understand from their labs itself the circumstances and conditions under which certain features get formed in a volcano, say scientists
Students and a scientist from Allahabad University (AU) have devised a new method and technique to form glass-fiber and droplet-like structures called “Pele’s hairs and tears (PH and PT)” in a simulated environment within a platinum crucible in their laboratory.
Pele’s hair is naturally occurring fine fibers of volcanic glass that form when hot molten lava is thrown into the air during explosive eruptions. These are sometimes found entangled with the little blobs of hardened volcanic glass called Pele’s tears. In Hawaiian mythology, Pele is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes and said to be the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.
“These features formed at very high temperatures and pressures are often reported from Hawaiian volcanoes of the US,” said prof Jayanta K Pati, director of National Centre of Experimental Mineralogy and Petrology (NCEMP), under whose guidance the new AU students from the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, devised the new technique.
Professor Pati said their work has been published in the prestigious Springer journal (Journal of Earth System Science) in its latest March-2023 issue.
“This is first of its type work like a ‘volcano within a crucible’ event! The crucible-in-crucible experimental setup is a new and low-cost technique under atmospheric pressure and high temperature conditions. It has tremendous implications in future earth and planetary science research, especially for creating a carbon dioxide+ caron monoxide-rich environments within a crucible. This would help researchers and students to better understand, from their labs itself the circumstances and conditions under which these features get formed in a volcano,” prof Pati said.
The work and the topic of the published paper was a dissertation project of the lead author, Mohammad Zahbi, pursuing MS from University of Miskolc, Hungary, under the supervision of prof Pati.
Anuj K Singh, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (SPM) Fellow, CSIR and Mrigank M Dwivedi, Scientist, NCEMP, too made substantial contributions despite Covid-19 deadlock to and perform replicate experiments and analyses for the final acceptance of this research contribution in the Springer journal’s March issue, prof Pati said.
The formation of PH and PT and their relationship with eruption types have led to a sudden increase in theoretical and experimental studies in recent years, professor Pati said.
Unlike previous experimental setups, the present study successfully formed these volcanic structures using a simple experimental design. The PH and PT formed during the present study compare morphologically very well to their known natural and experimental counterparts, and are found to be compositionally similar. They display a small range of chemical variations and exhibit a good chemical homogeneity similar to their natural analogues, prof Pati said while thanking AU vice-chancellor prof Sangita Srivastava for her support.