June 16, 2024


You are Your Only Limit

When Volcanology and Artwork Collide

4 min read

Recently, NC State volcanologist Arianna Soldati collaborated with a group of artists who do the job with obsidian glass. In a paper published in the journal Volcanica, Soldati and the artists expose the effects of their shared experimentation and understanding.

The Abstract sat down with Soldati to come across out what prompted the work, and how two seemingly disparate fields came alongside one another in excess of obsidian.

TA: How did this collaboration occur about in the initially area?

Soldati: Lava is glass. I know this appears strange, because the two elements may possibly appear pretty distinct at initially sight, but it typically “clicks” when you consider about obsidian. Obsidian is lava (molten product emitted by a volcano), and it is shiny and sharp like glass. It also breaks with a conchoidal fracture, like your normal glass bottle, with a round, clean break. In reality, obsidian is normally known as volcanic glass or organic glass. It receives its black coloration from iron within just it.

But glass and obsidian have a incredibly important thing in widespread: their composition. Glass is a odd materials in that it’s good, but not crystalline (requested) like quartz or diamond. Its atoms are arranged chaotically, because glass goes from being a molten liquid to a chilly sound really swiftly, so the atoms don’t have time to get in order and type crystals, they just freeze in spot. The exact matter takes place with obsidian.

This similarity among lava and glass is very interesting, because it allows relate what may appear to be like an unique and area of interest discipline these kinds of as volcanology to a incredibly concrete, daily knowledge this kind of as hunting out a window. And artists have been operating with glass way extended than volcanologists have been researching lava, so they can train us a thing or two! Glass artists have an incredible amount of money of simple understanding on the product they function with. We experts have an being familiar with of the actual physical reasons guiding some of individuals behaviors. Does not that seem like the excellent possibility to find out from just about every other?

TA: As a volcanologist, what were you most interested to understand about regarding glass, and how may that effect your function likely forward?

Soldati: I am an experimental volcanologist. I have a little furnace in which I melt rock samples and efficiently switch them into volcanic glass. I have had to achieve a ton of familiarity with the materials by demo and mistake, and that is pretty substantially a function in progress, just about 10 years in! I even now get amazed by how otherwise every distinctive sample behaves. Becoming capable to imagine about that outside the house of the volcanological terminology box, finding out from glass artists’ operational understanding of the components and their restrictions, has actually created me a superior experimentalist.

TA: What thoughts did the artists have for you?

Soldati: The artists have been interested in comprehending the roots of actions distinctions in between obsidian and man-built eyeglasses.

All parties approached this collaboration with curiosity for the other’s perspective. Discovering how we use theoretical and sensible knowledge of the substance to get the job done it or interrogate it, and how we could all grow in our fields by incorporating varied strategies was the accurate reward of this work. We learned how really complementary the artists’ chaîne operatoire (or operational sequence) and scientists’ experimental protocol are.

TA: What, if any, experiments did you do and what thoughts were being they built to remedy?

Soldati: We preferred to determine out how the viscosity of obsidian modifications with temperature and how that compares to other glasses. Viscosity and its variation matter in glasswork for the reason that they determine how the glass will behave when it is melted, stretched, poured, cast, blown, etcetera. Every strategy is exclusive and involves the appropriate match as significantly as glass material to be effective.

TA: You point out the issues of doing work with “natural” glass like obsidian in the paper – have been you in a position to figure out some workarounds that would aid artists fascinated in working with this substance?

Soldati: We had been able to experimentally constrain the “working range” of obsidian in contrast to traditional gentleman-designed glasses, delivering artists with relatable facts that can aid them figure out what glassworking processes obsidian is ideal suited for, and what temperature adjustments might be effective. We were being also able to formalize a dehydration process (a lot of “trouble” in organic glass comes from water vapor bubbles in it) created by glass artists. But some artists embraced people problems and created remarkable parts that just wouldn’t have been possible with common glass!

TA: Is there far more to take a look at below going forward? If so, what are your upcoming methods?

Soldati: Yes, often! But in artwork – and science, though we are inclined to neglect – we can not normally map out the road forward. We are seeking ahead to getting stunned!

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