Imagining and constraining ferrovolcanic eruptions and landscapes through large-scale experiments

A. Soldati, J. A. Farrell, R. Wysocki, J. A. Karson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ferrovolcanism, yet to be directly observed, is the most exotic and poorly understood predicted manifestation of planetary volcanism. Large-scale experiments carried out at the Syracuse Lava Project offer insight into the emplacement dynamics of metallic flows as well as coeval metallic and silicate flows. Here, we find that, under the same environmental conditions, higher-density/lower-viscosity metallic lava moves ten times faster than lower-density/higher-viscosity silicate lava. The overall morphology of the silicate flow is not significantly affected by the co-emplacement of a metallic flow. Rather, the metallic flow is largely decoupled from the silicate flow, occurring mainly in braided channels underneath the silicate flow and as low-relief breakouts from the silicate flow front. Turbulent interactions at the metallic-silicate flow interface result in mingling of the two liquids, preserved as erosional surfaces and sharp contacts. The results have important implications for the interpretation of possible ferrovolcanic landscapes across our solar system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1711
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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