Research Fellows Directory
Professor Kathy Cashman
University of Bristol
The hazards posed by volcanic eruptions affect human populations around the world. My work addresses the processes that underlie volcanic hazards, particularly generation of volcanic ash, which poses risks to civil aviation. By elucidating the underlying processes, my work provides critical information for development and testing of models used for ash transport and forecasting of volcanic activity.
My work on volcanic ash has two main goals: (1) to develop predictive models of ash formation in different types of volcanic eruptions and (2) to improve input to models of ash dispersion and deposition. Toward this end, my group analyses ash samples from past eruptions, performs experiments to create ash, and works with the MetOffice to incorporate our results into predictive models of ash transport. We are working specifically to develop sets of input parameters that are tailored to the types of volcanic eruptions that are most common in Iceland, the primary source of volcanic ash hazard to the UK.
Underlying my volcanic ash work is a focus on the fundamental processes that generate magma and trigger volcanic eruptions. We are currently experiencing a major paradigm shift in our views of volcanic systems, one that I and my co-authors believe will fundamentally alter the ways in which we understand volcano behaviour. Toward this end, I am working with colleagues to generate a framework in which we can combine tools of geophysics and geochemistry to understand how and where magma accumulated beneath volcanoes, as well as the specific processes that might trigger volcanic eruptions. At the same time, we are working with statisticians to refine historic and prehistoric records of past eruptive activity, data that are critical for looking to future volcanic hazards.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)