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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Lead Supervisor: Marie Edmonds, Earth Sciences 

Co-Supervisors: Juliet Biggs, University of Bristol and Wim Degruyter, University of Cardiff

Importance of the area of research concerned: 
The vast majority of volcanic eruptions occur in remote regions and are not observed directly. Recent developments in Earth Observation capability have led to a number of space-based sensors for the purposes of measuring changes in the height of the ground surface and gas emissions before, during and after volcanic eruptions. Observations of volcano ground deformation show that some volcanoes tend to show signficant pre- and syn-eruptive deformation, whilst others do not; the reasons for these variations are unclear. We know that some magmas in the crust co-exist with a large fraction of exsolved volatiles and this influences magma compressibility, as well as the sulfur load injected into the stratosphere during large eruptions. Our improved understanding of the form and tempo of magma reservoir growth and recharge, including the evolution of the exsolved volatile fraction, has implications for how we interpret deformation data from volcanoes.
Project summary : 
We propose a project aimed at better understanding geophysical and geochemical signals accompanying volcanic eruptions. The project will utilise the data that is increasingly available for remote areas using satellite-based sensors. This project will build on recent work bringing together thermodynamic and physical approaches to modeling magma compressibility (e.g. McCormick Kilbride et al., 2016) in order to interpret both volcanic gas emissions and ground deformation in tandem, along with other strands of volcano monitoring data. The models will be extended to the case of long-lived eruptions, which may experience magma recharge and transitions in eruption styles.
What will the student do?: 
The student will use case study eruptions for which well constrained records of ground deformation and gas flux are available. Forward models will be developed which incorporate ground deformation and the thermodynamics of gas exsolution with a thermo-mechanical reservoir-scale model. The model will predict volume and pressure changes with time, combined with gas and crystal fractions that may be combined with estimates of permeability from theory and experiment, including the influence of crystals on gas migration through magmas to predict either gas storage or outgassing from reservoirs between and during eruptions. These outputs may be coupled to the vapor saturation model and models for interpreting ground deformation (e.g Mogi and more complex models).
Degruyter W, Huber C, Bachmann O, Cooper KM, Kent AJ. Influence of exsolved volatiles on reheating silicic magmas by recharge and consequences for eruptive style at Volcán Quizapu (Chile). Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 2017 Nov 1;18(11):4123-35.
Kilbride BM, Edmonds M, Biggs J. Observing eruptions of gas-rich compressible magmas from space. Nature communications. 2016 Dec 21;7:13744.
Biggs J, Ebmeier SK, Aspinall WP, Lu Z, Pritchard ME, Sparks RS, Mather TA. Global link between deformation and volcanic eruption quantified by satellite imagery. Nature communications. 2014 Apr 3;5:3471.
You can find out about applying for this project on the Department of Earth Sciences page.