Climate Change

These stunning crystals are revealing deep secrets about Australian volcanoes

Magmatic activity has left behind a trail of volcanoes stretching over 4,000 kilometres down Australia’s eastern margin, Image: Heather Handley

Heather Handley

Honorary Associate Professor in Volcanology and Geochemistry, Macquarie University

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Heather Handley at Ambrym volcano in Vanuatu, wearing a mask due the hazardous volcanic gases present Image: Heather Handley
A slice of the Earth’s mantle under a microscope, and the colourful crystals it reveals. Different types of crystals (minerals) and different orientations of the same minerals produce the range in colours seen when cross-polarised light passes through them. Image: Heather Handley
Yasur volcano in Vanuatu, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Image: Heather Handley
The volcanic deposits of Ohakune volcano in New Zealand. The different coloured layers represent variations in eruption style and explosive power. Image: Heather Handley
A black volcanic bomb from Mount Noorat volcano in the Newer Volcanics Province containing peridotite xenoliths — green fragments of the Earth’s upper mantle. Image: Heather Handley
Microscope image of a rock from Mount Quincan volcano in the Atherton Volcanic Province, Queensland. Image: Heather Handley
Using a microscope to look at thin sections of volcanic rocks. Image: Heather Handley
The dark grey expanse is the mantle fragment. It has a light coloured rim due to its interaction with the rising magma. On the right, bits of mantle crystals are breaking off. Image: Heather Handley
A crystal fragment (130 microns in width) from a peridotite mantle within a volcanic rock from Mount Gambier. The light grey rim has a different chemical composition to the darker area inside. Image: Heather Handley
The small (5 to 10 microns in size), spikier crystals are clear in this image. The black areas are holes from trapped gas bubbles. Image: Heather Handley
Skeleton-shaped olivine crystal in a volcanic rock from Mount Gambier. 500 microns in width. Image: Heather Handley
The same volcanic crystal, but through a regular microscope. Image: Heather Handley
Microscopic view of a mantle fragment brought to the surface during a volcanic eruption at Mount Quincan in the Atherton Volcanic Province, Queensland. Image: Heather Handley
A mantle fragment from Mount Quincan in the Atherton Volcanic Province, Queensland. Image: Heather Handley

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