Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

Fluid dynamic experiments in the laboratory can be used along side numerical geodynamic models to provide constraints on physical process, 3-D flow visualization, and complex fluid behaviour that is temperature, space and time dependent to understand physical flow systems at the Earth's surface, interior and in other planetary systems. Examples of fluid dynamic problems include mantle convection, general mantle or asthenospheric flow, subduction of tectonic plates, and magma chamber dynamics beneath volcanoes.

Class project: Coronae on Venus

Saffman-Taylor instabilities

Building the Experiments

Why corn syrup ?

Corn syrup has been used by geophysical fluid dynamicists for many years. A viscous version of what you put on your pancakes in the morning, corn syrup is made from sugar cane. Bakers use this syrup for baked goods and are the chief suppliers for geophysicists. This common fluid has a unique combination of properties that allow scientists to visualize fluid flow using light diffraction through the transluscent fluid, represent viscous fluid systems that scale with mantle flow in the Earth's interior over geologic time, and dispose of experimental material easily and safely.

Know your viscosity conversions!

Molecular structure of glucose

Measuring viscosity and other fluid properties in the laboratory