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Continental Scientific Drilling Division 2020 Distinguished Lecturer John Eichelberger “Drilling to Magma”

John E
John Eichelberger
U. Alaska Fairbanks
Live virtual via zoom

This event is virtual, so please join via zoom. 

Meeting ID: 979 2465 3337

Note: A password is required to join this meeting. Please call 706-542-2652 and speak with a representative to obtain the code. Alternatively, a code request can be made to

About the Speaker:

John Eichelberger (MIT, Stanford) holds a careerlong passion for scientific drilling of volcanoes. He began with volcanology related to geothermal energy at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, transitioning to volcano hazards as Professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and then Coordinator of USGS Volcano Hazards Program. Later he served as Dean of the Graduate School at UAF and VP Academic of UArctic. International collaboration has been his central theme, especially with Russia, joined to Alaska by volcanoes and history. He received the Sergei Soloviev Prize in natural hazards from EGU in 2015. John’s enthusiasm for scientific drilling began at Kilauea Iki lava lake, coring into the molten interior as part of Sandia’s Magma Energy Project.. The project was a success, but the search for unerupted magma failed. Nevertheless, much was learned by drilling at Inyo Domes, California; Unzen, Japan; and Long Valley, California; and attempted projects at Novarupta Volcano, Alaska and Mutnovsky, Russia. Meanwhile, the geothermal push for hotter steam led to accidental discoveries of silicic magma in Hawaii, Iceland, and Kenya. Thus were the dreams of the ultimate in geothermal energy and eruption forecasting reborn. John is now working with an international team to fulfill those dreams at Krafla Caldera, Iceland. John will present his research on magma drilling to interested universities and events. Geosciences provide a long history of surprises when some thought the big discoveries were over. John proposes that drilling to magma will provide another game-changing surprise. What we know about magma is indirect: from field and laboratory observations fed into hydrodynamic models. But is it possible to drill to magma? Yes! It has been done many times, but only by accident. Should we do it intentionally? Yes, to understand how continental crust evolves, how to use heat of crystallization coupled with thermal cracking as an energy source, and how to forecast eruptions from direct measurements in magma. John will trace the progression from coring lava lakes, through shifts in thinking about magma bodies, to exciting data from drilling encounters with real magma, and describe what the future holds in drilling to this scientific frontier.

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