Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Ri Cao

Research interests:

I am generally interested in magmatic processes for magma chamber. For instance, I am currently working on the mechanisms that trigger the formation of steep-sided domes on Venus. Here, we use ‘pancake’ dome from Cyprus as an analogue so that we conduct fieldwork in cyprus to collect pictite bodies to constrain the dome formation mechanisms. I also have a broader research interest in experimental (i.e., rock physics) and computational (i.e., ab-intio modelling) mineral physics, especially in the upper mantle area.

Career history:

2011 -2015 B.Sc. Gemstone and Materials Technology (First-class); China University of Geosciences, Beijing

2016 -2017 M.Sc. Geoscience (Merit) University College London

2017 – 2020 M.Sc. (Re) Experimental mineral Physics University of Oxford

2021 – Present PhD. Geology and Geophysics

Active research projects:

PhD title: Massive volcanic domes on Venus and the mobilisation of crystal mush: Insights from the Troodos Ophiolite, Cyprus.

My PhD work is focused on the formation of enigmatic ‘pancake domes’, unusual steep-sided volcanoes which are (possibly) unique to Venus. Volcanic processes on Venus are dominated by basaltic magmatism, including lava flows with can extend hundreds of km under the intense surface conditions. Pancake domes are rare landforms on the relatively flat Venusian surface. They likely represent eruption of unusually viscous lava, although how such lava forms, and what implications this has for planetary processes deep within the interior of Venus, remain unknown.

My project work involves (1) modelling different processes by which Venusian magmas form, (2) replicating these processes in the laboratory, and (3) comparing predicted landforms to those observed on Venus. The recent announcements by ESA and NASA of three new missions to Venus mean that this project work is especially timely and suggest an additional aim: (4) determining how different models for pancake dome formation can be tested in upcoming missions.

Recent publications:

Ri. Cao, G. B. Bromiley, A. Hastie, L. M. Saper (2022), “Formation of steep-sided volcanic domes on Venus”, VMSG annual conference, January 2022.

Ri. Cao, L.N. Hansen, C. Thom D. Wallis “An apparatus for measuring nonlinear viscoelasticity of minerals at high temperature”. Review of Scientific Instruments.

R. Cao, L. N. Hansen, C. Thom, D. Wallis (2020), “Experimental investigation of the nonlinear viscoelasticity of olivine single crystals”, AGU Fall Meeting.

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