OLogy: Making Rocks

Visit a scientist’s lab to see how he creates a magma chamber!

Hi, I’m Jim Webster . I’m an Earth scientist at the American Museum of Natural History and I study volcanoes.

Some  volcanoes  slowly ooze magma like a thick stew that overflows on a hot stove. The ones I study explode with immense power.

Like most scientists who study volcanoes, I visit them to get a closer look and collect rock samples. But my real research happens in the lab. I’m interested in where all the action starts—way down below the volcano in the magma chamber, where gas-rich magma collects. As you can imagine, it’s way too deep and hot to actually go there. One way I can get a close-up look is by recreating the conditions of a magma chamber in my lab. If I can do this, I can understand what it is about magma that makes some volcanoes so explosive.


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