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Eliza Calder photo

Assistant Professor

Geology

University at Buffalo

861 Natural Science Complex

Buffalo, NY 14260

716-645-6800 ext 2252

 

Center for Geohazard Studies

University at Buffalo

429 Cooke Hall

Buffalo, NY 14206

 

Dr. Eliza Calder

webpage: http://www.geology.buffalo.edu/people/faculty/calder.shtml

Research Interests:

Explosive volcanic processes; Pyroclastic deposits; Volcanic hazards; Volcano monitoring

Summary of Recent Relevant Research:

Lava domes are piles of viscous magma that, in essence, form bulbous plugs on top of volcanic vents. They grow slowly as partially solidified magma is squeezed up the volcanic conduit, and they can host high internal pressures as gases exsolving from the magma try to escape. Lava dome eruptions are notorious for they often suddenly transform from being benignly effusive to violently explosive: Sudden removal of these ‘plugs’, either by vertically-driven explosions, caused once the internal gas pressure exceeds the tensile strength of rock, or sudden collapse and spontaneous disintegration as the piles grow and become unstable, can have devastating consequences. These collapse events spawn one of the major hazard in volcanology; devastating pyroclastic density currents, which move down the flanks of the volcano at speeds of up to 60 m/s. One of the projects that I am currently working on concerns the improved understanding and forecasting of lava dome collapses and has immediate and practical applications pertaining to the management of several on-going volcanic crisis. The work is based on the Soufrière Hills volcano (SHV) eruption, Montserrat, combined with preliminary comparative studies from two other active lava dome eruptions, Mount St Helens, USA, and Santiaguito, Guatemala. Such eruptions occur with relative frequency, are potentially extremely destructive and can continue for years-to decades. The real merits will be reaped when relationships unearthed during this study are usefully and successfully applied to dome forming eruptions elsewhere.

figure 1

Lava dome and ash plume generated by a dome collapse event at Soufrière Hills volcano in 1997.