Our academic staff pursue research as part of the UCL-Birkbeck Research School of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Our team of dedicated staff and technicians also provide excellent support for our students. Our Doctoral Programme is an integral part of our research culture find out more about our PhD Students.

Our PhD Students

Elizabeth Gaunt

Helen Gaunt

“Determining and evaluating the pathways for gas escape during lava dome eruptions using permeability measurements under simulated volcanic conditions.”

PhD project title:

An experimental study of permeability under simulated volcanic conditions on lava dome rocks from Mount St. Helens: constraints on degassing and eruption style

Project description:

The ability of volatiles to escape rising magma regulates the explosivity of a volcanic system. The slow escape of volatile gases from viscous silicic magma favours the gradual growth of a lava dome as opposed to an explosive eruption. It has been proposed that shear-induced fracturing at the conduit margins creates a damage halo, which acts as a permeable pathway for gas escape. Recent studies have revealed the detailed structure and texture of this damage halo and related conduit-margin fault zone at Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA. The aim of this project was to investigate how fracturing in conduit margin shear zones controls the pathways for gas escape. Laboratory permeability measurements under simulated volcanic conditions of temperature and pressure are being used to investigate the transport properties of a suite of samples I collected from a cross section of the marginal shear zone at Mount St. Helens. Coupled with a 1D fluid flow model the laboratory measurements will be used to demonstrate the pathways for gas escape during eruptions where strong cataclastic fault margins are present.

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