A Repeat Offender

Most people would describe the grounding of planes, the uprooting of families, and loss of life in a fire criminal. But these events can all be caused by a volcanic erruption - a natural event which is famously hard to predict.

This unpredictable nature is partly due to a lack of knowledge; every volcano has its own character and an accurate evaluation of each one is required. The magma ascent path, the nature of the plumbing systems, volatile contents - and the size and activity of the reservoirs themselves - are all important factors in predicting a volcano’s behaviour. The depth and shape of magma reservoirs has a huge influence on the physical-chemical properties of the magma and also on the expulsion of volatiles.

Not much is known about the volcanoes that comprise the islands of the Azores in spite of the large number of studies carried out in the past. Consistent models for the internal structure of volcanoes are still lacking, with important consequences for the volcanic hazard assessment of the area. The number, size and location of magma reservoirs beneath the islands are poorly known.

The THMSG600 stage is enabling scientists to learn more about the worlds volcanoes.

Vittorio Zanon, researcher of the Centro de Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos Geológicos, University of the Azores, is collecting information on the reservoir locations and processes of magmas. To accomplish this he is studying numerous fluid inclusions using microscopy, a Linkam THMSG600 stage, and Raman spectroscopy. These techniques provide information on the composition of gas species co-existing with magma at depth, and on the pressure conditions of fluid entrapment. In this way he can obtain the depths of mineral crystallization, and therefore, the depths of magma reservoirs.

He has now been able to build a 2D model of the magma ascent path through the crust, determine the crust thickness, and the existence of a shallow area suitable for reservoir formation.

All this information aids the geologists in predicting the behaviour of the volcanoes in question. I am not saying that the geologists will be able to prevent an eruption, stall, or indeed divert the flow, - as was so sensationally accomplished in the movie 'Volcano' - but knowing when it is going to re-offend is certainly a start.


Myths and mines

Prerequisites for a treasure hunt, old style.

Put down the whip and hat. Move over Indiana Jones. Its time for a new style of explorer.  

Gone are the days of dusty maps and mythical golden cities, these days the chances of finding gold, and other resources, requires a more scientific approach.

Geologists around the world are using microscopes and heating stages to explore the subterranean world of our planet and find its buried riches.

Using a THMSG600 Linkam stage, scientists at the Department of Physics and Earth Science from the University of Parma are investigating gold deposits from the Lepaguare valley mining district in Honduras. 

The Lepaguare is a mining district that hosts several precious metal vein deposits. These deposits mainly consist of gold and sulphide and are found alongside thick quartz veins within pre-Mesozoic metamorphic rocks. Inside the veins, the quartz crystals are rich in fluid inclusions (FI) which can be studied to provide an understanding of the history of the gold deposits.       

We don't expect to see a THMSG600 in the next Indiana Jones movie, but we live in hope.

By Caroline Feltham

ECROFI XXI - Fluid Inclusions and Hotstages in Leoben

 We like going to smaller conferences that focus on a specific area of research for a few reasons. Everybody seems to know each other and they are all pretty enthusiastic about their work and looking forward to tell everyone else about it.  It makes for a good atmosphere and it is much more likely that they will come and have a look at our stuff and let us know what they think.

The other reason is these conferences can be in some pretty cool places.  The sorts of towns you might never come across.

The ECROFI (European Current Research On Fluid Inclusions) conference this year was held in Leoben, Austria, hosted by the University of Leoben.  A flight to Vienna followed by a wonderful train ride through some spectacular low mountain scenery lands you in a beautiful small town with nearly a 1000 years of history.  

Leoben is an iron mining town and known as the gateway to the Styrian iron road.  The main square, 'Hauptplatz', is surrounded by lovely baroque facade buildings with a beautiful 16th century church and an intriguing restaurant, Arkadenhof Schwarzer Adler, (there since 1550 I think?) serving all manner of Austrian delectables - mainly schnitzel of various varieties and shapes.  There are also many delightful cafes, although why nearly all of them displayed inch thick  menus of bizarre icecream sundae concotions featuring such oddities as spaghetti and pistacio sundae will remain a mystery.

Fluid inclusion geologists are a great bunch, my Dad seems to think their upbeat relaxed outlook is because they always manage to find remote exotic locations to perform their research.  It's hard to argue with that, the sterile lighting of most labs is not conducive to a cheery demeanor.  However, I wonder if it could it be the geologists relationship with good beer which was served everday of the conference at 4:30pm courtesy of the conferences main sponsor The local Gosser Brewery....delicious and refreshing it was to.

Nearly all of the conferees already have one or two of our stages, either the THMSG600 (arguably the most successful geology stage of all time), MDSG600 (motorized geology stage) or high temperature TS1500, but we had a couple of interesting new products to showcase.

The CAP500 stage has been developed in collaboration with Prof Jean Dubessy at the University of Nancy and Prof I-Ming Chou at USGS in order to study synthetic fluid inclusions in capillaries relative to temperature and pressure.





The TS1400XY developed with Prof Bob Bodnar's group at Virginia Tech to investigate high temperature melt inclusions and quench cooling.  (You can read an earlier blog post on this here.)

The next meeting of the fluid inclusion geologists is PACROFI and is hosted by The University of Windsor in Canada.






Many thanks to Ronald Bakker and the organizing comittee at ECROFI for all your help and giving us the opportunity to show off our equipment.

Posted by Vince Kamp

Hot Rocks and Cool Fluids at PACROFI 2010


Fluid inclusion geologists are a pretty cool bunch of scientists.  I can't quite put my finger on what separates them from many other scientists we come into contact with.  The research is highly complex and yet they just seem a little more laid back and easy going - noted by the high proportion of sandal and short wearing attendees.


Maybe it has something to do with spending a lot of time outside gathering samples in exotic locations or maybe they just know something we don't.

What I do know is that we had a great time at the recent PACROFI (Pan-American Current Research On Fluid Inclusions) conference hosted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Not only because Fluid inc researchers are a great bunch of people to be around, but because we had the chance to show off our new TS1400XY stage.....ok, it didn't hurt being a couple of blocks from the strip either.

Prof. Bob Bodnar of Virginia Tech GeoSciences, has had one of our prototypes for a few months and he was on hand with his colleague Dr. Rosario Esposito to show off some nice melt inclusion pics they had taken using the high speed quench cooling feature.

Prof. Jean Cline and Dr. Adam Simon, PACROFI hosts and organisers, recently received their new TS1400XY and though they had some initial issues with imaging at temperatures above 1200C, this has now been sorted out and we hope to hear some good reviews pretty soon.

It was also great to meet up with Dr. Jim Reynolds, legendary fluid inclusionist and inventor of the USGS Fluid Inc stage, who also had some nice compliments for our TS1400XY stage.  The Fluid Inc stage was a major competitor to our THMSG600 stage and to receive a compliment from a former competitor is high praise indeed.

Many thanks to Jean and Adam for hosting a fantastic show and allowing us to exhibit our hotstage.  Why all conferences don't end with a poster session lubricated with something like 15 different types of beer is a mystery to me.

Also thanks to Jeff McGinn and Sam Cortes of McCrone Microscopes and Accessories  fame - our preferred U.S distributor, for setting up the booth, shipping out their demo TS1400XY and Imaging Station and sorting out the logistics.  Hope you guys have some better luck at the tables next time!
Not that I would ever advocate gambling of course.