Sequential fragmentation: The origin of columnar quasihexagonal patterns

E. A. Jagla and A. G. Rojo
Phys. Rev. E 65, 026203 – Published 9 January 2002
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We present a model that explains the origin and predicts the statistical properties of columnar quasihexagonal crack patterns, as observed in the columnar jointing of basaltic lava flows. Induced by temperature gradients during cooling, irregular fractures appear at the surface of the material. At later times fractures penetrate into the material, and tend to form polygonal patterns. We show that this ordering can be described as a tendency to minimize an energy functional. Atomistic simulations confirm this interpretation. Numerical simulations based on a phenomenological implementation of this principle generate patterns that have remarkably good statistical agreement with real ones.

  • Received 23 April 2001


©2002 American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

E. A. Jagla1 and A. G. Rojo2

  • 1Centro Atómico Bariloche and Instituto Balseiro, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina
  • 2Department of Physics, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1120

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Vol. 65, Iss. 2 — February 2002

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