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Geosciences: Melt Rises to Earth's Surface Up to 25 Times Faster Than Previously Assumed

Thanks to rod-the-farmer for the link.

ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2010) — Scientists have successfully determined the permeability of the asthenosphere in the Earth's upper mantle and thus the rate at which melt rises to the Earth's surface: it flows up to 25 times faster than previously assumed. Thermo-mechanical and geochemical models on melt flows in volcanoes now have to be reconsidered.

A colossal centrifuge measuring about two meters in diameter is embedded in the floor in the cellar of the Department of Geosciences. It spins samples at 2800 rpm creating a radial acceleration of 3000 times the Earth's gravity. In full operation this centrifuge makes an infernal noise of 120 decibels. "That's about as loud as if you were standing underneath an airplane," says Max Schmidt, a professor from the Institute for Mineralogy and Petrology at ETH Zurich. The rim of the centrifuge reaches a speed of 850 km/h; if the machine is stopped by switching off the drive motor, it takes an hour to come to a standstill.
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