Volcanology for Worldbuilders

I’m revising my planetary map, so I decided to take a better look at what’s cooking inside the earth and how planet interiors interact with everything else. The course I had enrolled into, Volcanic Eruptions: a material science, started today, and after watching the first lecture, I expect it will be useful (at least in some parts) for mapmakers and planet-builders (yes, even to those who are fantasy writers.) All you have to do is watch the lectures online or download them (and take the final exam to get a certificate if you want to.)

The course runs 10 weeks and its syllabus is as follows:

Week 1: The Earth as a living planet: The five big extinctions during Phanerozoic times; Volcanic fatalities; Volcanism in the solar system; Volcanism on Earth; The essence of volcanism.

Week 2: The Earth as a living planet; Volcanoes on Earth: magnitudes and landforms; Explosive and effusive volcanism; Videos of Merapi and Etna volcanoes; Volcanic materials; mineralogy and fragment classification; Chemical and mineralogical classification.

Week 3: Structure of molten silicates: Chemical composition; Stability and geological properties (an overview on viscosity/viscoelasticity; density, expansivity/compressibility; Volatiles solubilities, diffusivities, heat capacity, redox equilibria); Structure of molten silicates.

Week 4: Dynamics of molten silicates; Glass and molten silicates; Molar heat, Enthalpy: Strain vs. time; Cooling vs. heating paths; Maxwell relations for viscoelasticity; Resistivity and viscosity; Relaxation times and implications for experiments.

Week 5: Relaxation in silicate melts; Longitudinal vs. shear viscosity; Glass transition; Quench rate, relaxation time and viscosity; The role of water content, water speciation, pressure and temperature; Details of water speciation from experimental data.

Week 6: Diffusion in silicate melts; water content and water speciation (cont.); Diffusion in contrasting silicate melts; The role of temperature; Comparing diffusion of different elements; The role of pressure; Simplified Stokes-Einstein and Eyring equations; Relaxation times (comparison between different compositions at different temperatures).

Week 7: Expansivity and compressibility in silicate melts; Partial molar volumes; Density: equation of state for liquid silicates; Density determinations and calculations above and below glass transition; Density models for anhydrous granitic system.

Week 8: Viscosity of silicate melts; Calibration of reaction kinetics for speciation (e.g. H2O); Prediction of glass transition: temperature, thermodynamic and kinetic; Methiods of viscosity measurements; Arrheynius and non-Arrheynius plots; Viscosity-temperature relationships; Peraluminous and metaluminous (calcalkaline) melts; Adam Gibbs model: entropy of mixing; Multicomponet models with water and fluor.

Week 9: Fragmentation of magmas. The process chain: What is a volcano doing?

Week 10: Impact and relevance, Volcanoes and Mankind; Hazards mitigation.

It might seem scary to some, but all you need is a basic understanding of physics, chemistry, and mathematics.

Come, join the fun! 😉

Jeno Marz
JENO MARZ is a science fiction writer from Latvia, Northern Europe, with background in electronics engineering and computer science. She is the author of two serial novels, Falaha’s Journey: A Spacegirl’s Account in Three Movements and Falaha’s Journey into Pleasure. Marz is current at work on a new SF trilogy. All her fiction is aimed at an adult audience.

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