I am a first year PhD student at the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems. I am researching persistent degassing behaviour at Masaya volcano in Nicaragua.
My main research interests involve monitoring active volcanoes in order to understand volcanic processes, using a variety of techniques, mainly geophysical and geochemical. I am also interested in the impact volcanic activity is having on the surrounding environment.
I am currently focusing on a volcano called ‘Masaya’, located in Nicaragua. Throughout its lifetime Masaya has displayed a range of volcanic activity including lava lake formations, explosions and eruptions. However, Masaya hasn't actually erupted any lava for several hundreds of years, instead it continues to release toxic gases and this activity is known as 'degassing'. A range of gases are released, the most important being sulphur dioxide, with hundreds of tonnes released each day. Sulphur dioxide is well known as a troublesome gas as it can trigger a range of negative impacts for those living nearby, including health implications, damage to crops and contamination of water supplies. Over 6 million people (almost one third of Nicaragua’s total population!) live within 14 miles from Masaya, indicating the importance of monitoring this degassing behaviour.
The research aims are to monitor and investigate the processes happening inside the volcano to discover how changes relate to the activity seen at the surface, in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling the degassing cycles. I also hope to shed more light on the path and ultimate fate of the gases emitted by the volcano, starting from the volcano’s magma and moving through the gas plume into the soil, water, and finally, plants and animals. Through tracking volcanic gases from source to sink I hope to reduce the risk to surrounding communities by, for example, encouraging the cultivation of more acid-tolerant crops and developing safer evacuation plans.
Fieldteam member on Masaya Earthwatch expedition.
Impact and engagement
For my PhD fieldwork I work alongside Earthwatch, an environmental charity that supports scientific research, where volunteers learn geophysical and geochemical processes used to monitor an active volcano.
I have taken part in a NERC training programme where I have produced videos to help communicate my research to the general public and learnt how to engage end-users.
I very passionate when it comes to motivating students to explore volcanology, therfore I am regularly involved in school outreach programmes. While stuying at Aberystwyth University I was a 'Geography Ambassador' with the Royal Geographical Society, where I visited multiple inner-city London schools promoting geography as a subject. I have also played an active role in Bristol Universities Earth Science Department, with their outreach programmes such as 'Hotstuff', and have continued to do so with the Open Universities Volcano Dynamics Group.