VOLCANO: PhD studentship available

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PhD studentship available
From: Philip Benson <p.benson@xxxxxxxxx>
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Hello,

I have a PhD studentship available on "Volcano seismicity and fluid-rock coupling: Laboratory simulations of fluid-induced seismicity and implications for eruption forecasting"

Further details are at:
http://www.earthworks-jobs.com/geoscience/portsmouth12011.html
and:
http://www.port.ac.uk/departments/academic/sees/phdstudentships2012/

Brief synopsis:
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The Earth currently hosts some 600 volcanoes which are known to have erupted in historical time, with nearly 500 million people living on or near one of these edifices. Of these, 40 volcanoes are located in Europe alone, where two or three are normally in eruption each year. Some 4-5 million people live within sight of an active European volcano, while at least 10% of these are economically vulnerable to an eruption. Improved understanding of volcanic processes is therefore a central goal in volcano tectonic research and hazard mitigation. Seismicity and ground deformation are the short-term precursory phenomena most frequently detected before a volcanic eruption, occurring as the Earth's crust is distorted by magma pushing its way to the surface, and as fluids (magma, volcanic gas and/or hydrothermal fluids) move within faulted rock. The final approach to eruption is commonly preceded by accelerating occurrence rates of both high-frequency  volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes and low-frequency (LF) events. These characteristic seismic signals are unique to volcanoes and associated with fluid movement. Whilst great progress has been made in understanding short term VT signals, the precise details of the mechanisms involved in generating LF earthquakes, and the VT-LF transition, remain poorly understood. In this research project, the student will reproduce volcano-tectonic conditions using a high-pressure rock deformation apparatus, equipped with an internal furnace, to impose a well-controlled stress regime on samples of volcanic rock. He/she will also use state-of-the-art instrumentation to record and analyse the micro-earthquakes generated by fracturing in the samples and by subsequent fluid flow through the fracture network.  These signals are analogous to the VT and LF events observed at much larger scale on volcanic edifices. By applying these methods to well-constrained laboratory simulations at typical volcano pressures and temperatures, the student will enhance our fundamental understanding of volcano-tectonics from the perspective of solid-fluid coupling. A key project output will be an improved understanding of how the coupling between rock type, fluid type and fluid phase controls failure and, hence, the predictive ability of failure (eruption) forecast models. The laboratory data will be critically compared with published field and theoretical studies in order to validate and test new methods for assessing both short-term and long-term precursors to volcanic eruptions.
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Regards,
Philip Benson

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