EGU22-4070, updated on 27 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Kilns of the Earth: Glass art collaborations to further understanding in volcanology

Lucy Jackson1, Fabian Wadsworth1, and Joanne Mitchell2,3
Lucy Jackson et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, Durham, U.K.
  • 2School of Art and Design, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, U.K.
  • 3National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland, U.K.

The material behaviours that underpin artistic work with glass have striking similarities to those of volcanic glasses, silicate melts, and magmas. This similarity presents a compelling opportunity for collaboration between glass artists and volcanologists to better understand silicate melts, and thereby to elucidate volcanic processes.


Using silicate melts as an experimental material is advantageous, because it allows us to investigate coupled thermorheological effects that are not well captured by the more widely used low-temperature magma analogue materials such as syrups and oils. Here we present work focussed on adapting and refining the artistic, kiln-based process of bubble entrapment and the precision manipulation of gas phases in glass. These techniques have previously been used to create glass art pieces involving complex bespoke figures formed from gas trapped within layers of glass. We expand the use of this technique to investigate bubble rise dynamics in soda-lime-silicate glass under non-isothermal conditions; varying temperature to slow or accelerate the bubble rise.

We present a scaled mathematical model that provides an excellent description of the experimental data even in case of complex changing temperature environments similar to the long, slow annealing stages of glass art production. Scaling analysis is used to show how our experiments using artistic soda-lime-silica glass can be scaled to volcanic environments. This allows a better understanding of bubble motion in magmas under variable temperature conditions, such as those in shallow basaltic lava lakes, flows, or the uppermost parts of magma plumbing systems.


This art-science collaboration used artistic skills and knowledge to validated our model, and tested the limits of the artistic technique: the use of kiln-based heating programs and the glass used by artists. Overall, the advantages of using kiln-based art techniques and skills for volcanology is clear. But we also find that there is a deep mutuality to glass art collaborations, such that the art techniques can be refined via the scientific model development. Ultimately, when working to better understand the behaviours of a complex material such as glass, the approaches of the artist and the scientist are very similar, and our project shows that the presumed disciplinary divide may be less divisive than expected.

How to cite: Jackson, L., Wadsworth, F., and Mitchell, J.: Kilns of the Earth: Glass art collaborations to further understanding in volcanology, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4070,, 2022.