Geophysical detection of fluid movement at active volcanoes (HERD_UENV17EE)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date:  October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Richard Herd

Project description:  
Scientific Background
Geophysical observations and gas emission monitoring are some of the most useful tools for forecasting the behaviour of active volcanoes. However, the disciplines, while linked qualitatively, are rarely analysed together, even though they have profound effects on each other. Several studies have observed that fluid movement alters the properties of the surrounding rock. These changes include seismic velocities and ground deformation. The quantification of the effects of fluid movement will not only assist volcano observatories to discriminate between the signals of gas and magma movement, but also has the potential to improve monitoring of remote volcanoes. 

The project will be divided into two parts. The first part will be the development of computer models for a target volcano. The 2008 summit eruption of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii will be the main focus of the project through collaboration with Dr. Poland at the US Geological Survey. The student will use models to calculate seismic velocity variation, strain and stress due to pressurised fluid-filled cracks in the medium. The second part will be to test the theories that the student has developed in the first part on other target volcanoes to evaluate the global applicability of the models.  The student will visit Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) to work with Dr. Poland on the deformation data, and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) to gain experience monitoring one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

The project will be conducted primarily in the University of East Anglia School of Environmental Sciences, where the background and existing knowledge to support this project are excellent. Training will be given where necessary in seismic and other geophysical methods, general computing skills and specific MATLAB and COMSOL use. The other institutions involved in this project are HVO and CVO, where Dr. Poland is the research scientist in volcano geodesy. Training will be given in geotedic analysis and interpretation.

Person specification:  Applicants must hold, or expect to receive, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant engineering, mathematical, or physical sciences discipline. Expertise in geophysics or volcanology and strong computing and mathematical skills are desirable.

Funding notes: This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with twenty other research partners.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 14/15 February 2017.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2016/17, the stipend was £14,296.

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