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News from the Earth Sciences

2018-03- Hazard Centre

News from the UCL Hazard Centre

Geochemical surveillance is essential for reducing risk at actively degassing volcanoes. Variations in concentration and compositions of gases can be indicators of magma ascent or changes in hydrothermal system dynamics, so monitoring is important for the timely detection of unrest. The gases themselves can also present a major health hazard, with impacts ranging from aggravation of respiratory conditions and skin inflammation, to asphyxiation and death. A key challenge for monitoring is that degassing can occur over large areas and concentrations can change rapidly. In an ideal scenario, networks of instruments capable of providing real-time information would be installed across the degassing area, but conventional methods are usually cost-prohibitive.

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Planetary Ices Group

The Planetary Ices Group carries out world leading research into the structure, dynamics and astrobiological potential of icy planetary bodies, with a particular focus on determining the properties of their constituent icy ‘minerals’. Planetary bodies are essentially crystalline aggregates: the structure and evolution of all such bodies are thus fundamentally due to the microscopic behaviour of the component crystals – equilibrium structures, elasticity, and transport properties for example. In determining the magnitudes of these properties for different ices and for the highly hydrated phases thought to exist in the interiors of outer solar-system moons we employ a coordinated multidisciplinary approach involving a combination of experimental and computational techniques.