Effectiveness of Iron Oxide Microlites as Bubble Nucleation Sites in Rhyolitic Melts

Summer 2017

Eva Lopez : Geophysics

Donor: Anselm M&PS Fund
Mentor: Michael Manga

Investigating the conditions that allow for bubble nucleation and bubble growth is significant for improving our understanding of volcanic eruptions and forecasting how they evolve over time.  This research investigates how the presence of Iron Oxide (FeO) microlites may influence the nucleation of bubbles in rhyolitic melts as a function of temperature and at room pressure.  It aims to shed light into the relationship between nucleating gas bubbles and the presence of, distance from, and relative size of, FeO microlites.  It will thus allow for an understanding on how the bubble number density relates to the presence or absence of crystals and pre-existing bubbles, and consequently, analyze the rates of heterogeneous vs. homogeneous nucleation. In addition, this research will consider why these microlites may be effective nucleation sites.   Factors such as surface tension, temperature variation, crystal geometry, melt viscosity, volatile diffusivity, and melt chemistry will also be examined in order to understand what factors may render FeO microlites effective nucleation sites.

Dear Anselm MP&S Fund, Being part of the SURF fellowship allowed me to dive into research and explore geophysics like no other academic experience has done before. This experience allowed to learn what research truly is and to reinforce my interest and growing love for geophysics research. This opportunity was challenging and eye opening: I realized how frustrating and difficult research can be but I also learned that I capable of doing it. The process allowed me to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, and to discover how fascinating arriving to the results can be. It allowed me to interact with faculty, mentors, and students, and develop academic and professional relationships that I am sure will continue to grow as I embark on my future graduate studies and research. It has been a true honor being part of the SURF 2017 fellowship, which is only possible thanks to your contribution. Thank you so much, Anselm MP&S Fund for allowing to start a journey of learning, growing, and researching!