LP/T conditions pertaining to crust and upper mantle can be reproduced in lab, thus allowing the investigation of geological processes such as genesis of magmas and their evolution, mineral growth and fluid-rock interaction processes in different geological scenarios, e.g. geothermal areas and upper mantle (metasomatism).

Through experimental Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry it is possible to reproduce processes occurring in nature, by projecting and performing experiments with different appropriate starting materials, either solid (rocks, minerals, synthetic mixtures) or fluid.
Experiments may have importance in Material Science fieldwork too, since it is possible to synthesize materials with technological and economic interest.


The lab is equipped with:

  • Furnaces (Carbolite ELF 10/14, CSF 1200 and CWF 1200) maximum temperature 1200 °C and tube furnace (Carbolite STF 15/50/450) maximum temperature of 1500 °C equipped with quenching rod;
  • Gas mixing furnace Deltech DT-31(T< 1700 °C) modified in order to allow sample quenching and control oxygen partial pressure through a CO and CO2 mixture flowing into the furnace tube;
  • Stirred micro-reactor (Parr Mod. 5500) designed to perform fluid-rock interaction experiments (P< 20 MPa, T< 350 °C);
  • Externally heated pressure vessel (Leco Corp., model HR-2B-2) to simulate P-T conditions existing in the upper crust (P< 0.4 GPa, T < 900 °C)
  • Piston cylinder (Psika) to simulate P-T conditions existing in the upper mantle (P<3 GPa, T<1700 °C).


Andrea Orlando Ph.D., (CNR Researcher - Staff and Head Laboratory)
Daniele Borrini Ph.D. (DST UniFI Researcher - Staff and Head Laboratory)



+39 055 2757560 (Laboratory)
+39 055 2757510 (Orlando Office)



Methods change on the basis of the instrument being utilized and of the focus of the project. Experiments may have applications in the Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Geothermy, Mineralogy, Materials Science, Archeometry fieldworks.


Sample can be hanged utilizing a Pt loop bound to two electrodes. At the end of the experiment electric current flowing into electrodes will let the sample fall in the quenching pot. It is possible to control and to monitor externally the oxygen partial pressure during the experiment.


Solids and/or fluids in a 25 ml stainless steel container, stirring through a magnetic stirrer, it is possible to sample fluid during the experimental run (in situ).


Samples, introduced in a sealed Au capsule, are inserted in a stainless steel reactor heated by an oven. T is controlled and monitored by K thermocouples. The furnace allows a T gradient to be established in the reactor.


Sample, in a Pt capsule, is inserted, together with the assembly, in a WC cylinder and it is mashed by a 0.5” WC piston pushed up by a 75 ton press. Pressure medium is solid (NaCl), T is measured by S thermocouple.


In recent years the Lab has been working within several scientific projects, among which:

  • PNRA-PEA 2004 in order to simulate alkaline metasomatism in lherzolitic rocks, similarly to what happens in the volcanic province of Mt Melbourn.
  • COFIN 2004 in which lab experiments allowed to estimate mineral growth rates in silicatic lavas.
  • Spontaneous research focused on the geothermal system of Mt Amiata, considered an hypothetical natural analogue site for mineral trapping processes.
  • ZEBU’ Project (Zero-emission CH4-poor biogas utilization through mineral carbonation) funded in 2008 by Tuscany Region (POR FESR 2007 – 2013), in which mineral carbonation has been investigated in serpentinitic rocks.
  • PRIN project “Geochemistry and Fluid Dynamics of high pCO2 systems” in which fluid rock interaction experiments at high pCO2 were investigated.
  • informal project IGG-UniPr-Inaf-UniFi on synthesis of Fe2+-bearing plagioclases to better interpret reflectance spectra of Solar System bodies.
  • Aithale Project on Archaeometry in which experiments reproduced reduction processes performed in ancient times on hematite from Elba Island.
  • Project “Integrated Methods for Advanced Geothermal Exploration” (IMAGE) in which synthesis of tourmalines and production of synthetic fluid inclusions were obtained.


  • Orlando A., Conticelli S., Armienti P. & Borrini D. (2000) - “Experimental study on a basanite from McMurdo Volcanic Group, Antarctica: inference on its mantle source”. Antarctic Science, 12, 105-116.
  • Orlando A., Thibault Y. & Edgar A.D. (2000) - “Experimental study of the K2ZrSi3O9 (wadeite)-K2TiSi3O9 and K2(Zr,Ti)Si3O9-phlogopite systems at 2-3 GPa”. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol., 139, 136-145.
  • Orlando A. & Borrini D. (2001) - “Solubility of Ti in andradite under upper mantle conditions: preliminary results”. Periodico di Mineralogia, 70, 99-110.
  • Orlando A. & Borrini D. (2003)- "Synthesis of pyrope - grossular garnets: an experimental study at P=2.5 GPa". Mineral. and Petrol., 78, 37-51.
  • Orlando A. & Borrini D. (2006): “High temperature gas-mixing furnace: experimental set up and applications to Earth Sciences”. Periodico di Mineralogia, 75, 233-240.
  • Orlando A., Abebe T., Manetti P., Santo A.P. & Corti G. (2006)- “ Petrology of mantle xenoliths from Megado and Dilo, Kenya Rift, Southern Ethiopia. Ofioliti, 31, 67-83.
  • Perinelli C., Orlando A., Conte A.M., Armienti P., Borrini D., Faccini B. & Misiti V. (2008)- “Metasomatism induced by alcaline magma in the upper mantle of northern Victoria Land (Antartcica): an experimental approach”. From: Coltorti M. & Grègoire M. (eds) Metasomatism in Oceanic and Continental Lithospheric Mantle, Geological Society, London, Special publications, 293, 279-302.
  • Orlando A., D’Orazio M., Armienti P. & Borrini D. (2008)- “Experimental determination of plagioclase and clinopyroxene crystal growth rates in an anhydrous trachybasalt from Mt Etna (Italy)”. European Journal of Mineralogy, 20, 653-664.
  • Orlando A., Conte A.M., Borrini D., Perinelli C., Gianelli G. & Tassi F. (2010)- “Experimental investigation of CO2-rich fluids production in a geothermal area: the Mt Amiata (Tuscany, Italy) case study”. Chemical Geology, 274, 177-186.
  • Orlando A., Borrini D. & Marini L. (2011)- “Dissolution and carbonation of a serpentinite: Inferences from acid attack and high P–T experiments performed in aqueous solutions at variable salinity”. Applied Geochemistry, 26, 1569-1583.
  • Orlando A., Lelli M. & Marini L. (2012)- “Production of amorphous hydrated impure magnesium carbonate through ex situ carbonation”. Applied Geochemistry, 27, 2500-2510.