Chemical and Biological Engineering 2023 Robert W. Lyczkowski Lecture

The Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering presents Research Director Augusto Neri of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Italy, who will give a lecture on Robert W. Lyczkowski’s work, “Multiphase Flow Modeling of Explosive Eruptions and Their Hazards: Some Achievements and Perspectives.” This lecture is open to the public and will take place in Perlstein Hall, room 131 on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 from 3:15–6 p.m.


About 10 percent of the world’s population lives within 100 km of a historically-active volcano, and the potential for great loss of life and economic disruption in violent eruptions has emerged as a major problem, particularly in countries like Italy. Developing the capacities to better understand volcano dynamics and to forecast and mitigate hazards are therefore principal scientific priorities. Nevertheless, the understanding of explosive eruption dynamics and assessment of their hazards continue to represent challenging issues to present-day volcanology. This is due to the complex and diverse nature of volcanic phenomena as well as to the unpredictability and non-reproducibility of full-scale eruptive processes.

This lecture gives an overview of some contributions to these challenging objectives derived from the development and application of transient 2D and 3D multiphase (particles plus gas) flow models implementing state-of-the-art formulations of the physics of pyroclastic mixtures and high-performance computational techniques. Numerical simulations produced by such codes have allowed to better understand and fairly accurately reproduce well documented volcanic events, and provide key insights  in comprehending the complex and often non-intuitive dynamics of explosive eruptions—such as convective plumes, collapsing columns, pyroclastic density currents, short-lived explosions, ash dispersal and deposition, among others. Simplified models based on a reduction of the  system complexity and calibrated on multiphase and multidimensional simulations have also proved to be useful, combined with Monte Carlo and statistical methods, to generate quantitative probabilistic hazard maps at different space and time scales, including the quantification of some sources of uncertainty. The presentation illustrates numerical simulations of explosive phenomena specifically developed to quantify hazard at high-risk volcanoes such as Vesuvio and Campi Flegrei (Italy) and reports on  current challenges and key next steps to further progress volcanological modeling research and its contributions to the mitigation of volcanic risk.


Robert W. Lyczkowski (Ph.D.): Robert W. Lyczkowski’s expertise is in multiphase flow and heat transfer, erosion, light water and liquid metal nuclear reactors, in-situ processing of fuels, and concentrated suspensions. He has also applied his knowledge to the development of a unique non-Newtonian power-law model for multiphase hemodynamics that established a new paradigm for analyzing the migration of blood-borne particulates. He has authored more than 150 technical publications, more than 50 reports, and holds two United States patents. He contributed significantly to the development of the RETRAN and COMMIX computer programs. Lyczkowski has recently completed a book titled, “The History of Multiphase Science and Computational Fluid Dynamics: A Personal Memoir.” He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and a recipient of the prestigious Ernst W. Thiele Award.

Augusto Neri (Ph.D.): Augusto Neri is a research director in the physics of volcanism at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) in Italy. Neri received his master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Pisa and his Ph.D. from Illinois Institute of Technology. He has been director of the Pisa Section of INGV (2005–2013) and director of the volcanoes department at the same Institute (2016–2022). Neri’s scientific career has been focused on the development and application of multiphase flow models of explosive volcanic processes and phenomena, particularly collapsing columns, pyroclastic density currents, volcanic plumes, ash dispersal and deposition and conduit flow. Several complex and non-intuitive processes were highlighted through these models which brought a more robust understanding of the dynamics of explosive eruptions. For instance, the application of these models to well-observed events—such as the volcanic blast on May 18, 1980 of Mt. St. Helens (U.S.) and the 1997 vulcanian explosions of the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat (West Indies)—allowed to better elucidate the internal dynamics of these phenomena. Neri has also contributed to the quantitative assessment of volcanic hazards at Italian and foreign volcanoes  such as Vesuvio, Campi Flegrei, Etna, Stromboli, Mt. St. Helens, Soufriere Hills of Montserrat, La Soufriere of Guadeloupe, Santorini, etc. He is the author of more than 100 scientific papers and has been the principal investigator of many international and national projects in the above fields. For his research work, Neri has been awarded the 2017 Sergey Soloviev Medal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) and the 2017 Honorary Fellowship of the Geological Society of America (GSA). In 2020 he was awarded the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fellowship and the Gilbert White Award and Lecture of the same association.