In November 2018, the Geologists’ Association “Festival of Geology” was hosted by UCL. For this occasion, the cloisters were filled with mineral stalls, scientists gave presentations and the public could take part in tours of the Earth Sciences department.
This gave an opportunity for the Rock and Ice Physics lab to open its doors to the public. We welcomed groups, and tried to convey our passion for rock physics. We showed them around the lab while explaining how we can recreate deep crustal conditions and why it is important to understand what lies beneath our feet. We explained them our projects, our experiments and why it matters. They discovered that rock can deform in a brittle manner but also that rocks can flow.
The public was able to discover how a triaxial press works, how we use permeameters to understand reservoir properties and finally we performed simple uniaxial experiments filmed with a high speed camera for them to have a closer look at a laboratory earthquake! They could see how fast a rupture propagates and feel and hear how much energy is released during such a rupture. Hopefully this would have given them a good idea of how powerful and dangerous earthquakes can be.