I am curious about the behavior of magmas. Rock melt at depth, lava pours forth from volcanoes, but what happens in between? A challenging question considering active magma bodies typically reside several kilometers deep, and the ancient ones have cooled, weathered, and eroded away much of their information. We still don’t have a clear understanding of how these magmatic systems grow and evolve.
Currently, I am sidestepping the whole reliance on natural magmatic systems, and producing realistic magmatic systems in the laboratory. By injecting liquid wax (magma) into gelatin (Earth’s crust), I can monitor the magmatic behavior during emplacement, and after cooling, I have at my disposal an entire magmatic system I can hold in my hands. Exposure is no longer an issue. So far, the results are extremely promising. Contrary to long held beliefs that magmatic systems inflate in a simple, balloon-like fashion, my experiments show that growth is complex and herky-jerky. These experiments could potentially help rewrite our understanding of magmatic system growth, offer insight into inflation/deflation patterns at active magma bodies, and better predict locations of ore deposits within ancient magma bodies.