Lead Supervisor: Dr Paul Cole
Location: University of Plymouth, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science
Duration: 6 weeks
Suitable undergraduate degrees: Earth Sciences, Geography, Physics
On the 9th of April 2021 the growth of the lava dome in the crater of Soufriere St. Vincent was abruptly terminated by the first of series of > 30 explosions that lasted until the 22rd of April. Careful stratigraphic investigations by the lead supervisor and his team have revealed that the explosions that occurred in the first 24 hours or so had a different magmatic history during ascent and eruption than the later events.
Reconstruction of the petrological cargo to data this suggests that the very earliest explosions could be different again. Was the first explosion on 9th April largely composed of failed dome material? Did this material stall beneath the dome mass, and become choked with crystals such that the edifice and conduit failed in a brittle way? Was this system pushed from behind by new magma?
The investigating team sampled the whole explosive sequence, including clasts from the very first explosions. This internship will analyse these clasts and use crystal size distribution data to understand the conditions prior to eruption and failure for these clasts. Combining these data with compositional information from other collaborating partners will allow the student to participate in a project that sets out to answer the questions above. More specifically the student will:
- learn to use the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to gather petrological data;
- learn techniques to quantify and understand the distribution and size and textures of crystals and samples.
- Take part in discussion as part of a collaborative research process and gain experience in presentation and analysis of results through their reporting.
These data are of direct relevance to the reconstruction of the events that lead to the explosive-effusive transition and will be shared with the monitoring agency in the Caribbean, through the reporting above.
As such, the student will need to be resident in Plymouth for some of this internship.