Workshop on research prioritization and design concepts for a user facility for large-scale experiments on volcanic flows and other geohazards; 17-19 September, 2010 at Buffalo NY
Greg Valentine Principal Investigator
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The least understood and most hazardous volcanic processes involve complex, multiphase flows. These flows inherently involve a wide range of characteristic length and time scales, and processes that are coupled across scales. Data collection from active volcanic flows is greatly limited by the unpredictability of the events and the dangerous conditions they produce; and, even if measurements can be made, the boundary conditions of the flows are poorly constrained and this limits the physics insight that can be gained. While analog experiments provide many insights into the flows, a fundamental difficulty with multiphase volcanic processes is that they cannot be strictly scaled to the bench top. Numerical modeling is limited by the difficulty in capturing all of the appropriate scales of natural processes and/or the difficulty in developing data sets that capture the scales for model validation. The proposed workshop has the goal of developing research priorities and initial design concepts for a new international user facility for large-scale experimentation on volcano and other geohazard processes. <br/><br/>This effort builds upon the results of recent focused workshops on explosive volcanism (Prescott, Arizona, 2007; and Clermont-Ferrand, France, 2009), which identified large-scale experiments as a key direction in future research. The workshop will involve a mix of senior and early career researchers as well as graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and will result in a report with a roadmap for the development of the facility. Land and basic infrastructure is already available near Buffalo, New York, where the University at Buffalo is investing substantially into innovative research in extreme events, which includes natural hazards.<br/><br/>Broader impacts. A direct example of the broader impacts of this effort will be the development of a facility that can provide major transformative advances in our understanding of volcanic and geohazard processes for many years into the future. Students and early career researchers from many cultures and scientific backgrounds will be involved in defining the facility and will have an opportunity to collaborate with senior researchers from around the world in the effort. An indirect, but potentially very powerful example of broader impact is the possibility that the facility will help to nucleate and integrate volcanology and geohazard research in a completely new way that moves away from a model that consists mainly of individual researchers and small research groups with independent or poorly integrated priorities.