The heating of substrates beneath basaltic lava flows

Sophia W.R. Tsang, Jan M. Lindsay, Giovanni Coco, Robert Wysocki, Geoffrey A. Lerner, Erika Rader, Gillian M. Turner, Ben Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


As populations around volcanoes grow, the potential for society to be impacted by lava flows is increasing. While lava flows are known to ignite, bulldoze and/or bury structures, little is known about potential impacts to buried infrastructure. We measure temperature profiles below molten rock to constrain a heat transfer model. Thermomagnetic and palaeomagnetic measurements on soil samples from beneath a 2014 Hawaiian lava flow are then used to verify the model. Finally, we illustrate the model’s utility in lava flow hazard assessments by modelling a hypothetical lava flow active for 4 weeks in Auckland (New Zealand). The modelling predicts the upper 1.7 m of dry soil would exceed 100 °C after 1 week, and the upper 3.8 m of soil would exceed 100 °C after 4 weeks. Determining the depth profile of substrate heating has important implications for planning and preparedness (e.g. siting buried infrastructure), volcanic impact and risk assessments, and decision-making before and during lava flow crises (e.g. mitigation measures to be employed).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number68
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Analogue experiment
  • Infrastructure impact
  • Lava flow hazard
  • Palaeomagnetism
  • Pāhoehoe
  • Thermal modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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