Dr Joachim Gottsmann

University Research Fellow
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol
Quantifying Volcanic Unrest: A Multi-Parameter Approach


"More than 500 million people in the world are living in the immediate vicinity of active volcanoes. Because of the devastation and loss a major eruption can cause, being able to forecast volcanic activity is paramount. My work focuses on assessing the sources of unrest to help forecast the behaviour of a volcano, which will help us in assessing whether not a volcanic eruption is to be expected. Within a volcano, hot and molten rock is transferred to the Earth's surface and often erupted. Before this happens, volcanoes usually show signs of subsurface activity expressed by the ground shaking or swelling.

Measuring these signs helps us to assess the state of the volcano, and means that we can try to predict its future behaviour. However, the link between geophysical signs and eruption precursors is not straightforward - for example, the surface of a volcano may swell due to the arrival of new magma underneath, or it may just be caused by hot gases and fluids heated by or released from existing magma. My research contributes to a better understanding of processes triggering volcanic activity and how they are linked to behaviour on the Earth’s surface. If we are able to forecast the pattern of volcanic activity and determine when and why an eruption will take place, we will have the ability to mitigate the impact of volcanic activity and reduce losses.”

Read more about Dr Joachim Gottsmann's work at the University of Bristol.

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