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Lava flow emplacement in the laboratory and on the surface of Mars was investigated. In the laboratory, the effects of unsteady effusion rates at the vent on four modes

Lava flow emplacement in the laboratory and on the surface of Mars was investigated. In the laboratory, the effects of unsteady effusion rates at the vent on four modes of emplacement common to lava flow propagation: resurfacing, marginal breakouts, inflation, and lava tubes was addressed. A total of 222 experiments were conducted using a programmable pump to inject dyed PEG wax into a chilled bath (~ 0° C) in tanks with a roughened base at slopes of 0, 7, 16, and 29°. The experiments were divided into four conditions, which featured increasing or decreasing eruption rates for either 10 or 50 s. The primary controls on modes of emplacement were crust formation, variability in the eruption rate, and duration of the pulsatory flow rate. Resurfacing – although a relatively minor process – is inhibited by an extensive, coherent crust. Inflation requires a competent, flexible crust. Tube formation requires a crust and intermediate to low effusion rates. On Mars, laboratory analogue experiments combined with models that use flow dimensions to estimate emplacement conditions and using high resolution image data and digital terrain models (e.g. THEMIS IR, CTX, HRSC), the eruption rates, viscosities, and yield strengths of 40 lava flows in the Tharsis Volcanic Province have been quantified. These lava flows have lengths, mean widths, and mean thicknesses of 15 – 314 km, 0.5 – 29 km, and 11 – 91 m, respectively. Flow volumes range from ~1 – 430 km3. Based on laboratory experiments, the 40 observed lava flows were erupted at 0.2 – 6.5x103 m3/s, while the Graetz number and Jeffrey’s equation when applied to 34 of 40 lava flows indicates eruption rates and viscosities of 300 – ~3.5 x 104 m3/s and ~105 – 108 Pa s, respectively. Another model which accounts for mass loss to levee formation was applied to a subset of flows, n = 13, and suggests eruption rates and viscosities of ~30 – ~1.2 x 103 m3/s and 4.5 x 106 – ~3 x 107 Pa s, respectively. Emplacement times range from days to centuries indicating the necessity for long-term subsurface conduits capable of delivering enormous volumes of lava to the surface.

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  • 2020
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  • Doctoral Dissertation Geological Sciences 2020

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