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Development of a workflow for the assessment of eruption source parameters and volcanic plume rise

Project Description

The overarching goal of the project is to test a multi-disciplinary framework to produce accurate estimates of key eruption parameters, and to evaluate the relationships between these parameters and volcanic plume rise.

During eruptions, volcanic ash is injected from volcanic vents into the atmosphere at high speed, driven by hot gases. The direct threat to aircrafts from airborne volcanic ash is a well-known hazard, which causes disruption to flight operations and resultant loss of revenue. The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallaökull (Iceland) is one of many examples of an event that heavily disrupted air traffic, causing the closure of most of Northern Europe’s airspace for nearly a week, and the cancellation of over 100000 flights. The eruption stranded about 10 million passengers causing economic damage quantified in €1.5-2.5 billions. The response of regulatory bodies during volcanic crises relies on the output of complex numerical models of atmospheric dispersal of ash plumes. The accuracy of these models is contingent on precise assessment of parameters that reflect the intensity and style of eruption; these parameters include the amount of material injected into the atmosphere during eruptions, the time history of emissions, and the rise dynamics and maximum height reached by volcanic plumes.

During the project, the student will work on delivering a multi-disciplinary framework primarily based on acoustic infrasound and complemented by visual, thermal infrared, ultraviolet and satellite measurements in order to: 1) retrieve the time-history of atmospheric mass injection during volcanic eruptions; and 2) investigate the influence of variable eruption rates on plume rise dynamics. The project focusses on the characterization of near-source properties and processes during eruptions, and the implementation of a workflow for near real-time assessment of eruption source parameters and volcanic plume rise. The student will combine numerical modelling (using High Perfomance Computing) and inversion of acoustic infrasound data with evidence gathered from multi-parameter geophysical datasets. The outcomes of this work will potentially influence the implementation and validation of operational models of atmospheric ash transport by improving current capabilities to process ground-based, remote sensing, data, and to retrieve metrics that characterize the interactions between volcanic emissions and the atmosphere.

To apply for this opportunity please visit: and click the ‘Apply online’ button.

Funding Notes

Full funding (fees, stipend, research support budget) is provided by the University of Liverpool for 3.5 years for UK or EU citizens. Formal training is offered through partnership between the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester. Our training programme will provide all PhD students with an opportunity to collaborate with an academic or non-academic partner and participate in placements.


Diaz-Moreno, A., Iezzi, A.M., Lamb, O.D., Fee, D., Kim, K., Zuccarello, L., De Angelis, S. (2019). Volume flow rate estimation for small explosions at Mt. Etna, Italy, from acoustic waveform inversion. Geophysical Research letters (in press)
De Angelis, S., Diaz-Moreno, A., Zuccarello, L. (2019). Recent Developments and Applications of Acoustic Infrasound to Monitor Volcanic Emissions. Remote sensing, 11(11). doi:10.3390/rs11111302
Lamb, O. D., De Angelis, S.,Lavallée,Y. (2015). Using infrasound to constrain ash plume rise. Journal of Applied Volcanology, 4(1).
Mastin, L.G. et al. (2009). A multidisciplinary effort to assign realistic source parameters to models of volcanic ash-cloud transport and dispersion during eruptions, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 186(s 1–2), 10–21, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.01.008.
McNutt, S. R., Thompson, G., Johnson, J. B., De Angelis, S., Fee, D. (2015). Seismic and infrasonic monitoring. In Encyclopedia of Volcanoes (Second Edition) (pp.1071–1099). Academic Press.
De Angelis, S., D. Fee, M. Haney, D. Schneider (2012), Detecting hidden volcanic explosions from Mt. Cleveland Volcano, Alaska with infrasound and ground-coupled airwaves, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39(21), doi:10.1029/2012GL053635.

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