Linkam's "volcano rock cookers" get the lava flowing

A Linkam TS1500 stage has been at the centre of one of the hottest topics at Lancaster University where it is being used to study lava in order to safely learn more about its characteristics. 

The system which has recently been installed on a Zeiss Axio Scope at the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) is being used to cook lava samples and takes them back to a flowing state, as they would be inside an active volcano. This allows the volcanologists to study the samples under a microscope and directly observe the crystal growth and flow characteristics when they are at a temperature of around 1500c.

Dr Hugh Tuffen, the director of studies at LEC, who is leading this research into volcanoes hopes that the work they are carrying out will help to save lives. With a better understanding of how lava flows advance they will be able to help forecast where lava is going to be moving which will enable people to be evacuated in time. Dr Tuffen also remarked on the enjoyment that the students take in using the equipment describing it as a “fun bit of kit” which has been used to study samples sourced worldwide from Japan to Chile.

The on-going studies have enabled our TS1500 stage to get its moment in the limelight with appearances on the BBC science website, Volcano Live TV show and also on YouTube videos starring Dr Tuffen himself (above).

We wish Dr Tuffen and his team at Lancaster the very best of luck with his research - and hope he stays safe on his volcano chasing quests.

By Ricky Patel