The Laboratory of Geological Processes Simulation (SIMGEO) was created in 1995 a joint venture between the Faculty of Geology of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (ICTJA-CSIC) in the field of experimental and theoretical modelling of geological processes.
The SIMGEO seeks to promote application of experimental and theoretical models to the study of geological processes and, in particular, processes that involve a risk to people and the environment, through funding raised by public and private research projects and contracts and agreements.
The SIMGEO offers researchers a large space and equipment to design and develop experimental models. The SIMGEO has a laboratory of experimental petrology and mineral synthesis, a hydraulic channel 16 m length and a computer lab equipped with the necessary software to develop mathematical models and simulations using geographic information systems
- Magma chamber analogue modelling systemconsists of a pressurisable (up to 6 atm) transparent glass cylinder of 25 cm diameter and 40 cm height, which includes a barometer and a thermocouple, to track temperature and internal pressure tracked during the whole experiment, allows the entrance of different fluids in the same experiment in order to visualise the effect of mixing magmas of diverse types and properties, also allows to inject pressurised gas into the mixture, so we can study the effect of volatiles in the occurring processes, and also can heat the fluids up to around 80º to be able to consider variations in their properties (e.g. density or viscosity) due to temperature changes. Decompression of the tank is controlled by a series of external valve remotely operated, and two high speed digital cameras of high resolution document the experiments allowing internal measurements of fluid structures developing during the experiments such as fountains, drops , etc.
- Experimental petrology. This laboratory is composed of three rapid quenching cold seal vessels calibrated for pressures between 1 and 4000 bar and temperatures from 0 to 1000 ° C. Conditions of oxygen fugacity (fO2 = NNO +1 ± (0.5)) are determined by the material (Inconel 105 and Nimonic) that was used to construct the hydrothermal bomb. The laboratory allows the realisation of three to six experiments simultaneously depending on the size of the samples used, and it is convenient to simulate a range of conditions in water saturated and undersaturated evolved magmas that differentiate at shallow conditions (0-3 kb and up to 1000 ° C). The equipment is also suitable for mineral synthesis in the same range of conditions and for the study of hydrothermal processes.The lab also has all the necessary equipment both for sample preparation prior to the experiment and for observation of the experimental samples by electron microscopy and microprobe.
- Hydraulic channel 16 m in length. Experiments hydraulic system consists of a tank channel 15m long by 37cm wide and 40cm depth. All measurements are useful. The channel sidewalls are bulletproof glass, transparent, which do not deform the images to be displayed, in order to check sediment tests. The union of the glass with the metal base is perfectly watertight. The channel is supported by a metallic system rigid enough to not allow longitudinal or transverse bending that may damage the tests. The channel bottom is made of metal and machining is enough to prevent any irregularity in the background during the tests. There is a lift mechanism across the channel that allows simulation trials with variable slopes. This system is reliable and leaves no preset slopes decompensation. The lifting is performed by an end of the channel and at the other end there is a hinge device that ensures the stability of the whole system. The lifting system is hydraulic and automatically operated by a suitable automated system. To prevent random movement, there are safety ratchets that do not allow any unwanted variation of the inclination chosen. Two bins one at the entrance and another at the outlet with flow sinking filters. This is the usual mechanism for controlling the depth of flow during testing. The circulation of water is performed in a closed system, and therefore, the aqueous mass is closed and recirculated through the channel indefinitely.
- Mathematical modelling laboratory. Several GIS commercial and free packages are available (ArcGIS, QGIS), as well as software for digital image processing, numerical modeling using the finite element method (COMSOL. 4.2a) and geological modeling and 3D visualization (3D Geomodeller and RockWorks 16).
- Analogue structural and tectonic experimental system. Modular modeling table designed to emulate a wide variety of tectonic settings: extension, compression, strike-slip, basement faulting, tectonic inversion, double-wedges, salt tectonics, gravitational glidding, etc… A total of six engines run by a digital controller allow uni, bi or triaxial tests transmitting the deformation to the mechanical arms. The number and configuration of the engines allow modeling any strain field. The rate and orientation of movement are monitored continuously by a computer allowing it to be varied during the experiment. The modeling table also allows to carry out models at different scales, from basin to crustal scale. Digital time-lapsed photographs of the upper surface of the model are taken and controlled by a computer These photographs are complemented by a high-resolution white light scan (SIDIO Pro from Nub3D) which captures the topography of the model during the experiment run, recording changes in topography at millimeter scale.