Tag Archives: Volcano outreach

Ballistic Ducks and the Inclined Explosions – UEA Open Day Part 1 and 2

What’s up with all the ducks? July 4th Update! 

Fantastically nerve free rapid-shooting from ENV Undergrad  Esmee Thornton shows up the brilliantly different behaviour of the ducks vs the balls. We’re hoping to shoot a movie to shed more light on this tomorrow at the Planet Earth Summer School.

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 Here’s our new duck distribution map. This time we ran the explosions on more even ground.  The blue and green dots are the new 4th of July Faculty and Graduate ducks! 
    
 

Across the four UEA Open Days, the UEA Volcanology Team will be performing around 25 separate ‘bin bangs’ or explosions generated by liquid nitrogen in a simulated Vulcanian-style eruption.

The explosion is created by the failure of a well known Fizzy drinks bottle as iiquid nitrogen turns to gas. The explosion drives the water and balls upwards to simulate an explosion
Starting with a barrel of water, the explosion is created by the failure of a well known Fizzy drinks bottle as iiquid nitrogen turns to gas. The explosion drives the water and balls upwards to simulate an explosion

This seems like too good an opportunity to miss; so we thought we’d turn them into ‘repeat’ experiments! We’ve investigated how to vary explosion size before so this time we thought we’d look at the ballistics.

These are denser particles in an eruption, which behave as projectiles. Their behaviour depends on launch angle, velocity and their drag (retardation of movement by air resistance). We’re in fine company too, some of  the original work on ballstics was done by Gallileo and Euler.

We want to test the hypothesis that if we have   distinctive particle types, they would behave in distinctive ways and over time we could begin to predict which would travel further.

Enter the ducks!

Our ballistic ducks! They represent three things about the University. The heavier 'Faculty' Ducks: Health;Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences. The dignified Graduate Ducks and the little light bunny ducks!
Our ballistic ducks! They represent three great things about UEA. The heavier ‘Faculty’ Ducks: Health;Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences. The dignified Graduate Ducks and the little light bunny ducks!

So we set off a few of these:

Great #ueaopenday today we were setting off bin bangs all day! Science in action! #heyuea #universityofeastanglia #norwich #opendays

A post shared by University of East Anglia (UEA) (@uniofeastanglia) on

and then plotted the particles on a map (red for Faculty ducks, orange for bunnies, yellow for graduates).

The clearest result here is the influence of the slightly (north-south) inclined surface we ‘erupted’ our volcano on. This is not without a natural analogue, our colleague on the STREVA Project (Paul Cole) has  has published a paper on his observations of inclined explosions and the consequences for particle distribution and hazards (although in this case an inclined crater not an inclined conduit). There is just a hint that as our experiments got rumbunctiously a wee bit larger the effect of the slope was less important (wider dispersal of later ducks!).

A real 'inclined' explosion, Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat on 8th December 2008, from Cole et al., 2014.
A real ‘inclined’ explosion, Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat on 5th December 2008, from Cole et al., 2014.

Subtle differences in take-off angle, and particle interference mean that each individual particle is going to struggle to behave as the perfect trajectory each time. But with repeat experiments, if they were very different we would expect differences to emerge in the overall pattern.

To add further spice, and as a mark of respect for UEA’s interest in citizen science we are asking people who watch to take just one ball and ‘predict’ the type of furthest travelled duck.

The results of the 'citizen' predictions. The early strong showing from 'Faculty' meant they edged it with 37 votes. They were our furthest travelled ducks on 20th June.
The results of the ‘citizen’ predictions. The early strong showing from ‘Faculty’ meant they edged it with 37 votes. They were indeed our furthest travelled ducks on 20th June.

They’ve got our plot of ‘past behaviour’, my patter about the duck ‘properties’ and their own instinct (or scientific knowledge!) of what might be important.

We’re off again on Saturday the 4th of July. To celebrate our UEA-USA connections (Faculty, students and great connections with several Universities on our Year Abroad Programs) we’ll be using red, white and blue balls as well as ducks!


 

What’s up with all the ducks? July 4th Update! 

Fantastically nerve free rapid-shooting from ENV Undergrad  Esmee Thornton shows up the brilliantly different behaviour of the ducks vs the balls. We’re hoping to shoot a movie to shed more light on this tomorrow at the Planet Earth Summer School.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Here’s our new duck distribution map. This time we ran the explosions on more even ground.  The blue and green dots are the new 4th of July Faculty and Graduate ducks! 
    
 

Pompeii, forensic volcanology and STREVA

Pompeii

Last week we were lucky enough to work with the British Museum’s ‘Pompeii Live’ Team, helping to introduce some ideas about volcanic processes for their Schools Broadcast. In a series of excellent and exciting adventures we used the bins and balls to create explosions, and tried to show hard it would be for our Playmobile charioteer to out run the (liquid nitrogen) surge.  Check out Jon Stone’s Storify page that captures the fun!

pliny_tristan_corridor
This is Trepidus Maximus (Pliny for short). He ‘volunteered’ to outrun a (LN2) surge to illustrate it’s velocity relative to his fabulous horse-drawn chariot.

Of course, as much as possible, we wanted to link it to the unfolding events in 79 A.D. So, it was also a splendid opportunity to engage with some of the painstaking research that has been done to recover a true record of precisely what happened.

In addition to the volcanological aspects, the Exhibition itself is a stunning glimpse into the lives impacted by the eruption. Although much was obliterated on that day; the objects left behind  provide compelling if sometimes sombre insights into Roman life and the manner in which those lives were so abruptly truncated. ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum‘ indeed.

Forensic Volcanology

Image of the Wall Painting of Terentius Neo and his wife, on display at the British Museum (C) Soprintenda Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoil e Pompeii
Image of the Wall Painting of Terentius Neo and his wife, on display at the British Museum (C) Soprintenda Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoil e Pompeii

The story of the range of techniques used and the ingenuity applied in providing these reconstructions is almost as compelling as the narrative they reveal. Although there was no tweeting, no blogging*, no 24 hour rollings news, nor even vox pops from flustered scientists we understand pretty well the timings and driving forces behind the eruptions. We also understand much about the daily lives, cultural richness, interests and foibles of those left behind. Objects ranging from pumice through to bones, and leather have been subjected to tests and analysis to provide the reconstruction. A fabulous example of forensic volcanology: the physical, biological, chemical and geological properties of the objects left behind virtually  ‘whispering’ to us about what happened. The exceptional preservation of the artefacts left mean that they are positively shouting about the people who had worn, used and created them.

Streva Forensicselvolcanesmiecionad

The aims of the  STREVA project could loosely be paraphrased as research aimed at trying to prevent another Pompeii (or even a mini Pompeii) elsewhere in the world. So, its no surprise then that we are taking a forensic approach to our initial analysis. This time, instead of archaeological whispers we are collecting real voices and sharing geophysical data and eruption records in three locations where the population have lived with and monitored long-lived eruptions. The hypothesis here is that by ‘listening carefully’ to data that ranges from seismic waveforms to  the personal recollections of those who have had to adapt when faced with volcanic activity we will identify the most important dimensions of risk.

By doing better at analysing risk (and the global report card to date says ‘could do much better‘) then we can understand the underlying causes and identify systematically the stumbling blocks to societal resilience to eruptions. So, we need to listen very carefully to each and any source of information. Luckily, the process of listening is edifying, inspiring and humbling; David Pyle wrote about our first forensic workshop in Montserrat in September.

We are about to have our second in Banos in Ecuador, organised by IG-EPN with STREVA. They’ve already run some fantastic outreach art classes with the local children and we’ll talk with scientists, mayors, communities and emergency responders around the long-lived eruption of Tungarahua.

I can’t wait.

Children's art from village affected by the activity at Tungurahua
Children’s art from villages affected by the activity at Tungurahua

* Would Pliny have been a blogger? Discuss.

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ is on at the British Museum until the 29th of September.

Pompeii Live is screened in UK Cinemas on the evening of the 18th of June, and the Schools version on the morning of the 19th of June. Follow  #PompeiiLive for updates.

Here is a link to a summary paper on 79 A.D. and its impacts from Giacomelli et al., from 2003 that can be accessed by anyone following this link. it illusrates some of the types of data that have been used.

El Volcan es mi Vecino is happening between the 12th and 19th of June around Tungarahua and Cuicocha in Ecuador. You can follow STREVA and IG-EPN on Twitter at @StrevaProject and @IGEPN