Welcome to the Bubble Lab

An experimental laboratory to study bubble processes in hydrothermal and volcanic terrain.

Earthquake and volcano processes are commonly accompanied by migration of fluids and deformation of fluid systems and their interaction with the host rock, including fracturing, fluid-filled crack growth and diking. The coupling between fluids and rock works in both ways: On one side, changes in the state of fluid-rock systems are thought to encourage or discourage tectonic earthquakes, induce seismicity changes and alter volcano activity; on the other side, the migration of fluids, gas release, phase changes and the assemblage of reservoirs are controlled by man-made, tectonic and volcanic stress changes. Goal of the Bubble Lab is to explore the development and (in)stability of large volume (mass) reservoirs at crustal or mantle depths. In combination with field observations and monitoring, by studying how fluid-rock systems act and change in time and space, we aim to better understand earthquake-triggered hazards, hydrogeological effects and volcano eruptions.

(a) Hydrothermal sites

The coupling of water springs (hot and cold) with earthquakes and the mixing of different fluid reservoir.

Investigation of the dynamics and interaction of geysers and mud pools.

(b)  Volcanoes

Study of the dynamic and static triggering of volcanic unrest and eruptions.

Within MED-SUV (EU grant agreement No 308665) pressure tansients in the hydrothermal system of Campi Flegrei are being studied using a combination of laboratory experiments (BubbleLab) and continuous pressure/temperature monitoring at fumaroles, mudpools, hot springs, and geothermal wells.

With funding from the now concluded ERC Starting Grant project CCMP-POMPEI (EU grant agreement No 240583) and in collaboration with Atsuko Namiki, Hiroshima University, we have studied the effect of sloshing a layered bubbly magma chamber, see.  We have also investigated the propagation of gas- and water-filled cracks in gelatin to simulate sill formation and sill reactivation in calderas.

(Here: link zu paper)

Unter Laborbedingungen können physikalische Mechanismen zur Druckerhöhung in Under lab conditions we investigate potentially bubble-related mechanisms capable to increase fluid pressure in reservoirs.

We simulate earthquake ground motions with a shaking table by replaying real earthquake recordings, track the size and velocity of rising bubbles via a camera system, and quantify transients with a set of pressure sensors.

Sensors to monitor pressure in a „reservoir“ (plexigals container). A modular data aquisition system (cDAQ) controlled by LabView is used to handle the sensor signals (up to kHz).

Dr. Heiko Woith HydrogeologyDr. Thomas R. Walter VolcanoloyDr. Eleonora Rivalta
Volcanoes und Earthquake Physics

Selected publications of relevant experimental studies on hydrothermal and volcanic processes:

Namiki, A., Rivalta, E., Woith, H. & Walter, T.R. (2016):
Sloshing of a bubbly magma reservoir as a mechanism of triggered eruptions. 
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.03.010.

Rivalta, E., Taisne, B., Bunger, A.P., Katz, R.F. (2014).
A review of mechanical models of dike propagation: Schools of thought, results and future directions.
Tectonophysics, 638, 1-42  

Woith, H.; Barbosa, S.; Gajewski, C.; Steinitz, G.; Piatibratova, O.; Malik, U.; Zschau, J. (2011):
Periodic and transient radon variations at the Tiberias hot spring, Israel during 2000-2005.
Geochemical Journal, 45, 6, 473-482.

Schöpa, A.; Pantaleo, M.; Walter, T. R. (2011):
Scale-dependent location of hydrothermal vents: Stress field models and infrared field observations.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 203, 3-4, 133-145.

Burchardt, S.; Walter, T. R. (2010):
Propagation, linkage, and interaction of caldera ring-faults: comparison between analogue experiments and caldera collapse at Miyakejima, Japan, in 2000.
Bulletin of Volcanology, 72, 3, 297-308.

Rivalta E., 2010.
Evidence that coupling to magma chambers controls the volume history and velocity of laterally propagating intrusions.
J. Geophys. Res., 115, B07203, doi:10.1029/2009JB006922.

Maccaferri F., Bonafede M. and Rivalta E., 2010.
A numerical model of dyke propagation in layered elastic media
Geophys. J. Int., Vol. 180 N. 3, Pag. 1107 - 1123, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04495.x.

Le Corvec, N.; Walter, T. R. (2009):
Volcano spreading and fault interaction influenced by rift-zone intrusions: Insights from analogue experiments analyzed with digital image correlation.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 183, 3-4, 170-182.

Rivalta, E., and Dahm, T., 2006.
Acceleration of buoyancy-driven fractures and magmatic dikes beneath the free surface Geophys. J. Int., vol. 166, Issue 3, Pag. 1424-1439

Möller, P.; Woith, H.; Dulski, P.; Lüders, V.; Erzinger, J.; Kämpf, H.; Pekdeger, A.; Hansen, B. T.; Lodemann, M.; Banks, D. A. (2005):
Main and trace elements in KTB-VB fluid: composition and hints to its origin.
Geofluids, 5, 1, 28-41.

Wang, R.; Woith, H.; Milkereit, C.; Zschau, J. (2004):
Modelling of hydrogeochemical anomalies induced by distant earthquakes.

Geophysical Journal International, 157, 2, 717-726.

Woith, H., Wang, R.J., Milkereit, C., Zschau, J., Maiwald, U. & Pekdeger, A.  (2003):
Heterogeneous response of hydrogeological systems to the Izmit and Duzce (Turkey) earthquakes of 1999

Hydrogeology Journal, 11, 113-121


Heiko Woith
Dr.Heiko Woith
Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Helmholtzstraße 6/7
Building H 7, Room 209
+49 331 288-1234


Thomas Walter
Group Leader
Priv. Doz. Dr.Thomas Walter
Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Helmholtzstraße 6/7
Building H 7, Room 318
+49 331 288-1253

Volcanoes and Earthquake Physics

Eleonora Rivalta
Group Leader
Dr.Eleonora Rivalta
Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Helmholtzstraße 6/7
Building H 7, Room 202
+49 331 288-28659