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Eruption source vents and subsidence patterns in exhumed caldera volcanoes, English Lake District (CENTA2-SGGE15-BRAN)

Project Description

How explosive caldera volcanoes erupt and collapse is essential to understand some of the most catastrophic events that affect the Earth’s surface. But research is hindered at modern volcanoes because most of the critical features, such as caldera faults, eruption conduits, vents, and caldera fill deposits are concealed [1]. However, in rare cases uplift and erosion has beautifully exhumed such features, allowing direct examination. Scafell caldera in the English Lake District is one of the best exposed, exhumed and dissected explosive caldera volcanoes in the world [2]. It has attracted interest internationally because it provides astonishing access to caldera fill ignimbrites, caldera floor faults, eruption vents and post-climactic lava extrusions [2],[3]. It therefore offers unique insights into the internal workings of these complex systems. Of particular interest is how subsidence shifts with time, and how vents activate and migrate as caldera floor faults propagate and dilate.

However, Scafell is just one of a series of overlapping (nested) calderas that generated explosive super-eruptions in the Lake District. This project will clarify the relationship between the large eruptions and individual subsidence structures and their vent systems. Logging and sampling of sections will be followed by geochemical analysis to characterise outflow ignimbrites and relate them to their source to define and characterise individual eruption-units and to correlate between distal and near-source exposures.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


[1] Branney M.J., and Acocella V., (2015) Calderas, In: Sigurdsson H. et al. (eds) The Encyclopedia of Volcanoes. 2nd Ed. Elsevier, pp. 299-315.

[2] Branney MJ, Kokelaar P (1994) Volcanotectonic faulting, soft-state deformation and rheomorphism of tuffs during development of a piecemeal caldera: English Lake District. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 106 (4), pp. 507-530.

[3] Brown R.J., Kokelaar B.P., Branney M.J. (2007) Widespread transport of pyroclastic density currents from a large silicic tuff-ring: the Glaramara tuff, Scafell caldera, English Lake District, UK. Sedimentology 54 (5) pp. 1163–1189. doi 10.111/j.1365-3091.2007.00877.x

[4] Knott T.R., Reichow M.K., Branney M.J. et al. (2016). Mid-Miocene record of large-scale Snake River-type rhyolitic explosive volcanism and associated subsidence on the Yellowstone hotspot track: The Cassia Formation, Idaho. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 128 (7-8) pp. 1121-1146. doi 10.1130/B1324.1

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