Physics @ Berkeley
Events in Physics
Title: Order And Disorder In Columnar Joints    (Colloquia)
Start Date: 03/19/2007
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: 1 LeConte Hall
Speaker: Stephen W. Morris
Affiliation: Associate Professor, Dept of Physics, University of Toronto
Contact Person: S. Freedman   (510) 642-3034

Columnar joints are three-dimensional fracture networks that form in cooling basaltic lava flows. The network organizes the solid flow into ordered, mostly hexagonal columns. Famous examples include the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, Fingal's cave in Scotland and The Devil's Postpile in California. The same pattern can be observed on a smaller scale in desiccating corn starch, and in some other materials. We have made the first three dimensional study of the evolution of the network in corn starch and relate these observations to the mature patterns observed in basalt.