UCL Earth Sciences


Kate Laxton

“Volcanoes, like pets, cause mischief and need constant supervision.”

PhD project title:

Monitoring degassing behaviour and eruption precursors at Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, Tanzania.

Kate Laxton
Project description:

The East African Rift System plays host to some of the Earth’s most unique and hazardous volcanoes. Among them is Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in northern Tanzania, characterised by some of the most remarkable features observed of any terrestrial volcano and capable of producing violent pyroclastic eruptions. Volcano collapse is considered to be one of the major hazards associated with Ol Doinyo Lengai (Kervyn et al., 2008) yet the volcano remains unmonitored.
This volcano is also one of the most persistently high-CO2 degassing volcanoes worldwide, although its remoteness has made it difficult for scientists to measure regularly. While SO2 can be more easily measured without atmospheric interference, CO2 exsolves from a melt at higher pressures than SO2 and H2O, providing a more representative snapshot of the deep volcanic system (McGonigle et al., 2008).
Not only will this research contribute to our understanding of internal magmatic processes but will help to better assess the likelihood of future explosive eruptions. This project will investigate novel remote gas and isotope sensing techniques to quantify the day-to-day degassing behaviour of Ol Doinyo Lengai and contribute towards international efforts to set up a local, long-term monitoring partnership.