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PhD Studentship: Probing the Dynamics of Hydrothermal Systems at Polar Active Volcanic Calderas and their Role in Volcanic Unrest NERC GW4+ DTP PhD Studentship for 2022 Entry, PhD in Geography

University of Exeter - Department of Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Tuition fees and stipend for 3.5 years (currently £15,609 p.a. for 2021/22)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 21st October 2021
Closes: 10th January 2022
Reference: 4240

NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship for 2022 Entry, PhD in Mining and Engineering

Funding: Also entitled to a research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses and a training budget of £3,250 for specialist training courses and expenses.

Location: Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, Cornwall

Lead Supervisor: Dr James Hickey, University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines (Geology)

Additional Supervisors

Dr Adelina Geyer Traver, Geosciences Barcelona

Prof Joachim Gottsmann, University of Bristol, School of Earth Sciences

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus five Research Organisation partners: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.  Its aims to provide a broad training and designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science http://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/

Project Background

Volcanic eruptions pose a threat to ~10% of the world’s population. To enable eruption forecasting, carry out hazard assessments, and mitigate risk, a thorough understanding of volcanic unrest is essential. Active volcanic areas, and calderas in particular, are commonly related to the presence of hydrothermal systems, which can drive volcanic unrest in combination with, or independent of, active magmatic intrusions or renewed magma supply, making the interpretation of observed unrest signals (e.g., deformation, seismicity, degassing) problematic. Polar and sub-polar calderas (e.g., Krafla and Torfajökull, Iceland; Deception Island, Antarctica) have added complications arising from extreme climate conditions and the presence of ice/snow cover, which affect the water recharge of their hydrothermal systems, stress-strain distributions, and the products of their eruptions, amongst others. Compared to lower-latitude calderas, there is still much to understand about hydrothermal system dynamics at polar/sub-polar active calderas.

Project Aims and Methods 

This project will interrogate the peculiarities of polar and sub-polar caldera hydrothermal systems to improve understanding of how their dynamics dictate or impact geophysical signs of volcanic unrest. Using numerical modelling of heat transfer, fluid flow and solid/rock mechanics, the student will assess the role of fractures, volcano-tectonics, glacial loading, and others on hydrothermal circulation and its surface and subsurface manifestations (e.g., volcano deformation, seismicity, and stress distributions). Deception Island and Torfajökull volcano form the two main case studies; results will be used to help guide future assessments of volcanic unrest, including the type, amount and location of volcanic events.

Project partners 

This project is an exciting collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Bristol, and Geosciences Barcelona. The unique combination of project partners will provide the successful student with access to expert resources and supervision, and experience working in non-university research. The project will also work in collaboration with a large research project called HYDROCAL (Structure And Dynamics Of Hydrothermal Systems In Polar Volcanic Calderas) providing further networking and collaboration potential across Europe, New Zealand and Mexico.

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