Geophysical modelling of fluid movement at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Environmental Sciences


Background and Rationale
Geophysical observations and gas emission monitoring are some of the most useful tools for forecasting the behaviour of active volcanoes. However, the disciplines, while linked qualitatively, are rarely analysed together, even though they have profound effects on each other. Several studies (Johnson & Poland 2013, Matthews et al., 2002) have observed that increased fluid alters elastic properties of the rock by filling the microscopic cracks. The measurements of elastic properties have been found to be proxies for determining the state of stress in the crust (Boness & Zoback, 2006). In environments such as active volcanoes, where large amounts of fluids move and gas is released, it is essential to quantify the effect of the fluids on the geophysical measurements. There are also studies (Watson et al., 2000) that have associated the release of magmatic gas with ground deformation through temporal correlation. Usually, however, observations of ground deformation are interpreted solely in terms of subsurface magma movement. The quantification of the effects of changing gas flux will assist volcano observatories to discriminate between the signals of magmatic and non-magmatic fluid movement.

Specific objectives
This project aims to quantify the relationship between fluids such as gas and geophysical variations at active volcanoes using cutting-edge numerical modelling software in conjunction with real volcano monitoring data. The student will model seismic velocity variation, strain and stress due to pressurised fluid-filled cracks in the medium. The models will explore a range of possible parameters and will be tested against analytical solutions and real data.
The project will concentrate on the development of the models for a target volcano, for which there is a rich data set. The 2008 summit eruption of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii will be the main focus of the project through collaboration with Dr. Michael Poland at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The student will visit the Cascades Volcano Observatory to work with Poland on the deformation data and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to work with other experts on Kilauea.

Research environment and training
The project will be conducted primarily in ENV (UEA), where the background and existing knowledge to support this project are excellent. Herd has expertise in volcano deformation and degassing, as well as volcano monitoring. Johnson has a background in volcano seismology and extensive experience with the software involved. Training will be given where necessary.
The other institutions involved in this project are the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) and the Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO), where Poland is the research scientist in volcano geodesy. Training will be given there in geodetic analysis and interpretation. Benefits of visiting HVO will be to talk to other scientists about their understanding of the volcano, observe the volcano first hand, experience a working volcano observatory, and take part in routine maintenance and campaign fieldwork with observatory staff
The transferrable skills obtained during this PhD include general computing (unix) knowledge, use of software widely used in engineering (COMSOL and MATLAB), scientific communication skills, field skills, and critical thinking and research skills.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007334/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2028
2100950 Studentship NE/S007334/1 30/09/2018 05/02/2025 Nicola Taylor