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Combining magma flow models and deformation measurements to understand magma ascent at silicic volcanoes


Project Description

Volcanic deformation can be caused by a broad range of processes related to the movement and evolution of magma. The type of processes detectable depends on the temporal and spatial resolution of the measurement method. Satellite radar measurements have so far most often captured reservoir-related processes, with a modal source depth of ~ 5km (Ebmeier et al., 2018). GPS or tilt measurements made near the volcanic conduit are more likely to capture transient signals associated with magma transport, but have been often modelled and interpreted as inflation or deflation of a shallow magma reservoir (Hautmann et al., 2009). More recently, shear stress has been identified as an additional source of deformation (Neuberg et al.2018; Marsden et al. 2019) which takes magma flow in shallow, silicic conduit systems into account. Hence, deformation models can now describe a range of processes between the pressurization of deep reservoirs and shallow magma ascent . So far, most models treat magma as a liquid, with a volume change that can account for surface displacements.

In this project we intend to combine deformation models and magma flow models to incorporate three-phase fluid flow (melt, crystals, volatiles), pressurization through crystallization (second boiling), degassing and outgassing, and thermal boundary layers into models of magmatic processes (Marsden et al., 2019). These magmatic processes affect the possible range of viscosities at different depths, as well as the range of pressures that can act at reservoir depth and shallow conduit level.
By combining the modelling of shallow magma flow and magmatic processes with the deformation patterns originating at reservoir depths , this project will gain new insights into the large variety of cyclic behaviours of silicic volcanoes. Examples of volcanoes with well-documented cyclic behaviour and deformation on multiple spatial scales include Soufriere Hills in Montserrat, West Indies and Tungurahua, Ecuador. For both volcanoes we have access to extensive data sets which will form the data base for the investigation, but further data sets such as seismicity and petrological data will be taken into account as well.

PhD Training

According to background and specific research interests, the student will be provided with training in analytical and numerical modeling techniques, and will use and further develop tools in volcano deformation analysis, numerical magma flow modelling, and deformation models. Volcanic monitoring experience will be gained at Soufriere Hills volcano, on the Caribbean Island of Montserrat at the volcano observatory (MVO) as well as on Tungurahua and Cotopaxi with the Geophysical Institute (IG) in Quito, Ecuador. We have maintained with both institutions very good links over many years and have an existing Memorandum of Understanding controlling data exchange and co-operation. Visits to both institutions will be necessary to implement forecasting tools at these observatories in co-operation with observatory staff. The student will be supervised by Prof Jurgen Neuberg and Dr Susanna Ebmeier, and will be part of a colourful and multi-disciplinary group of scientists in the UK and abroad, due to the multi-national co-operation and research contacts of the Volcano Study Group at Leeds.

Student Profile

The student should have a background in a quantitative science, an interest in volcanology and model development. They should also have an enthusiasm for overseas travel and international collaboration.

Impact of research

Living safely with active volcanoes has become a pressing issue for millions of people and scientist need to be able not only to predict a first onset of an eruption but also to identify the slightest change during volcanic activity in order to advise local authorities and civil defense agencies. The outcomes of this project will provide a major contribution to this aim, and through direct contact with relevant volcano observatories will provide new insights into deformation modelling.

Funding Notes

This 3.5 years NERC DTP award will provide tuition fees (£4,500 for 2019/20), tax-free stipend at the UK research council rate (£15,009 for 2019/20), and a research training and support grant of £5,000.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Leeds in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 79.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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