skip to content

Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Lead Supervisor: Marie Edmonds, Earth Sciences 

Co-Supervisor:  Emma Liu, University of Cambridge

Importance of the area of research concerned: 
Volcanoes and tectonically active regions release large fluxes of carbon dioxide is to the atmosphere, and over geological timescales these emissions are largely responsible for regulating Earth’s climate. Constraining the present day global flux of carbon to the atmosphere from volcanic and tectonic degassing is key to improving our understanding of the deep carbon cycle, both now and in Earth’s history. Diffuse degassing from tectonically active regions provide a significant contribution to global carbon fluxes, however characterisation of this flux poses significant challenges compared to single vent volcanoes: the areas over which degassing occurs are laterally extensive, often discontinuous, and the source region(s) are not always clear. The methods developed in this project will also be relevant for monitoring CO2 pipelines and CO2 leakage from areas of CO2 sequestration.
Project summary : 
This project will develop an operational inversion method using quantitative aerial gas mapping techniques using drone-and aircraft-based sensors to constrain carbon dioxide fluxes in active magmatic and tectonic regions known to exhibit elevated levels of diffuse degassing e.g. the East African Rift and large volcanic calderas. Measurements of CO2 gas concentrations around actively degassing areas will be combined with observations of the wind field to invert for CO2 flux, using assumptions about source vent geometry.
What will the student do?: 
The student will develop instrumentation and methodology to acquire CO2 concentrations in diffuse degassing regions around volcanoes and volcanic areas. The student will work in collaboration with the University of Palermo to develop a miniaturised high-resolution CO2 spectrometer package, for integration with a UAS platform. Fieldwork will take place in volcanic areas to map regions of diffuse CO2 degassing using UAS and traditional accumulation chamber methods to ground truth the technique. Inverse modelling to constrain CO2 flux from aerial concentration maps will be carried out, taking into account local wind fields and source geometry.
Burton MR, Sawyer GM, Granieri D. Deep carbon emissions from volcanoes. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry. 2013 Jan 1;75(1):323-54.
Aiuppa A, Fischer TP, Plank T, Robidoux P, Di Napoli R. Along-arc, inter-arc and arc-to-arc variations in volcanic gas CO2/ST ratios reveal dual source of carbon in arc volcanism. Earth-science reviews. 2017 May 1;168:24-47.
Emma J. Liu, Kieran Wood, Emily Mason, Marie Edmonds, Alessandro Aiuppa, Gaetano Giudice, Marcello Bitetto, Vincenzo Francofonte, Steve Burrow, Thomas Richardson, Matthew Watson, Tom D. Pering, Thomas C. Wilkes, Andrew J. S. McGonigle, Gabriela Velasquez, Carlos Melgarejo, Claudia Bucarey, in press. Dynamics of outgassing and plume transport revealed by proximal Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) measurements at Volcán Villarrica, Chile. G-Cubed.
You can find out about applying for this project on the Department of Earth Sciences page.