69717 - Physics of Volcanism

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Michele Dragoni
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: GEO/10
  • Language: Italian
  • Moduli: Michele Dragoni (Modulo 1) Eleonora Rivalta (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Physics of the Earth System (cod. 8626)

Learning outcomes

The student learns the causes of volcanism, the physical properties of magmas and the basis of physical modeling of volcanic eruptions.

Course contents

MODULE 1 (prof. Michele Dragoni)

Introduction to the physics of volcanism. Phenomenology of volcanism: volcanism on the Earth and in the Solar System, terrestrial eruptions, the energy of eruptions. Thermodynamics of the Earth: the terrestrial heat, crustal geotherms, convection and geotherms in the mantle. Genesis and properties of magma: formation, composition and rheology of magma. Lava flows: dynamical, thermal and rheological aspects.

MODULE 2 (prof. Eleonora Rivalta)

Mechanisms of magma ascent, magma chambers, volcanic conduits, calderic collapse, earthquakes-volcanism interaction.

It is assumed that the student has a good preliminary knowledge of the basic concepts of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and theory of elasticity.


Each lesson is accompanied by the projection of a file PowerPoint. The collection of files, divided into chapters, contains an exhaustive treatment of the program and can be used as a textbook for the study of the subject. The files are available since the beginning of the course and can be reached from the web page of the course.

If they wish to go deeper into the topics of the course, students may consult the following textbooks:

- H. Sigurdsson (editor), Encyclopedia of Volcanoes, Academic Press, 2000.

- R. Lopes and T. Gregg, Volcanic Worlds, Springer, 2004.

- D. L. Turcotte and G. Schubert, Geodynamics, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

The textbooks are available in the Library of the Department of Physics and Astronomy (Sector of Geophysics, viale Carlo Berti Pichat 8).

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures with projection of files PowerPoint. 

Assessment methods

The exam will be oral and will generally last about 30 minutes.

The student will be asked in sequence to illustrate three topics, among those considered in the course. For each topic, the student will be first asked to expose the general framework, then to go into details on some specific aspects.

The student will be requested to know the main equations of the physical theories employed and to know how they are derived; to be able to apply them to specific cases; to know the orders of magnitude of the employed physical quantities.

Teaching tools

Computer and projector.

Office hours

See the website of Michele Dragoni

See the website of Eleonora Rivalta


Quality education Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.