VOLCANOLOGY AND MAGMATIC PROCESSES
How does magma form, move & erupt at the surface?
VOLCANIC HAZARDS IN ARMENIA
Landlocked Armenia in the Caucasus Mountains contains hundreds of Quaternary volcanic vents, but we know little about their genesis or their eruption timing, rates and triggers. Detailed fieldwork, geochronology and geochemical studies are urgently needed to address these problems. We will continue to work with the Armenian National Academy of Sciences to better constrain the potential for future volcanic hazards and hopefully guide effective exploitation of geothermal resources. Colleagues at SUERC are working with external partners to use high-resolution Ar-Ar geochronology as a tool to date major steps in human evolution using Armenia's rich archaeological record.
HOT AND STICKY SUPER-ERUPTIONS
We study the stratigraphy and emplacement of lava-like ignimbrites, the deposits of extremely high temperature pyroclastic density currents, at both modern (e.g. Tenerife) and ancient (e.g. Arran) caldera volcanoes. Often historically misidentified as lavas, these deposits represent a significant catastrophic period of the eruptive history at calderas. Their interpretation as lava-like ignimbrites is crucial to understanding the potential hazards posed by such eruptions at active volcanoes. We are particularly interested in the welding and deformation of these ignimbrites and their incremental deposition.
THE HAZARDS POSED BY ERUPTIONS AT SHALLOW MARINE AND COASTAL VOLCANOES.
Sub-aqueous volcanoes allow the easy access of seawater into vents during eruptions (phreatomagmatic eruptions), which significantly increases their explosivity and thus hazard. These eruptions may generate pyroclastic density currents and additional hazards such as tsunamis and debris flows, and can potentially damage submarine infrastructure. This NERC-funded project uses a well exposed ancient volcanic example to understand the effects of the emplacement of pyroclastic density currents into the sea through detailed characterisation of their deposits.
COLLISION THROUGH THE EYE OF A GEOCHEMIST
We study collision processes and the igneous rock record in a variety of geological settings: the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone, the margins of the Caribbean Plate (pictured) and the Scottish Caledonides. By studying modern igneous rocks generated by collision processes, we can step back to understand plate tectonics in deep time through elemental and isotopic igneous geochemistry. With time comes erosion, and we can probe the deep crust of ancient collision zones for clues about the origins of modern volcanic systems. We presently have a Masters by Research student looking at the NW Scottish Highlands Caledonian igneous suite to model the petrogenesis of adakites. These are one of the most controversial collision-related magma types, with implications for the generation of Archaean crust and modern porphyry copper systems.
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VOLCANIC MARGINS RESEARCH CONSORTIUM
The Volcanic Margins Research Consortium (VMRC) provides the petroleum industry with training and research expertise in the volcanology, sedimentology and structural geology of volcanic margins. The consortium is sponsored by industry partners involved in the development of hydrocarbon prospects in volcanic rifted margins. At Glasgow, we provide expertise in the architecture of sediments in continental flood lava sequences, and both the distribution of tephra and the emplacement of sub-volcanic intrusions and monogenetic volcanic fields in sedimentary basins. The VMRC sponsors a variety of PhD projects at Glasgow.
Developing a fully quantitative understanding of the mechanisms and drivers that control the formation, transport and distribution of sediments, magma, and the reactivity of fluids and heat within the Earth's crust remain key challenges within the solid Earth sciences. Making progress in these areas will enable real, practical solutions to several key societal challenges.
Improving resource security and diversity: Societal impact of our research will include de-risking resource and energy solutions (geothermal energy, water resources, sustainable mineral resource deposits, safe nuclear waste disposal, carbon capture and storage technologies), contribute to public policy and international development and train the next generation of world-class Earth Scientists.