VMSG Newsletter #61

No. 61: June 2024

“Lo from our loitering ship
a new land at last to be seen;
Toothed rocks down the side of the firth
on the east guard a weary wide lea,
And black slope the hill-sides above,
striped adown with their desolate green…”

– William Morris, Iceland First Seen


Hello VMSG. Welcome to the summer newsletter! In this edition we’ll hear a bit about the VMSG 60th Anniversary Seminar Series, nominations for next year’s VMSG Awards, as well as VMSG Student Bursaries. We’ve also got some news about changes in the VMSG committee and a VMSG community success to celebrate. As usual there’s a quick round up of upcoming conferences that are like to be of interest as well. – David Neave

VMSG Awards and Bursaries

Laacher SeeThe closing date for the next round of awards and bursaries will be 15 September 2024 so here is a gentle reminder!

We welcome applications for student bursaries, which offer funding to postgraduate researchers of up to £500 to support activities that would otherwise not be possible. Remember, PhD students in their first year are now eligible to apply but you still must have presented at a VMSG conference prior to the application deadline.

Please see the bursaries website for further details and to apply.

We are also seeking nominations for our Willy Aspinall Prize, Zeiss Postdoctoral Keynote Award and Thermo-Fisher VMSG Award. Please consider nominating someone who you feel has made a substantial impact in their area of research but also gone above and beyond to make a contribution to the research community. As a quick reminder, here’s a description of the scope of each of these awards:

Remember there have been a few changes to the process this year:

Please see the awards website for further details on each award and how to nominate. We particularly encourage nominations from historically under-represented groups to all these awards. – Emma Nicholson and VMSG Committee

VMSG Committee Changes

Sami Mikhail will be standing down from his role as VMSG Treasurer this summer. On behalf of the committee and community as a whole, I’d like to thank Sami for all his work on balancing VMSG’s books, helping to steer VMSG through COVID and his diverse contributions to the wellbeing of the community as a whole (despite his recent admission in Bristol that he’s not really a volcanologist at all). – David Neave

James Hickey – Treasurer

Sami will shortly be handing over to James Hickey from the University of Exeter.

“It’s a pleasure to be re-joining the VMSG committee as Treasurer, and I look forward to playing a part in enabling and developing all the fantastic work and activities of the VMSG community. As I come on board I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Sami Mikhail for his excellent work over the past few years as Treasurer, and to also apologise for the number of times I’m likely to be nagging him over the next few months while I get to grips with the role!”

VMSG 60th Anniversary Seminar Series

Our series of seminars around the UK and Ireland has been continuing over recent months, with an excellent set of talks in Dublin, St. Andrews and Cambridge. Many thanks to all of the organisers and speakers at these seminars. We are seeking through this series to showcase the breadth of research across our community – and we’d welcome everyone to attend these. To promote accessibility of the series, we are making the talks available online and as recordings wherever possible.  These will be hosted on the VMSG YouTube channel, with the first available recordings now available.

Our next seminar is on Friday 14 June 2024 in Oxford, where Prof. Richard Robertson (University of the West Indies) will be speaking on ‘Risky Mountains in Paradise: Navigating the Volcanic Tapestry of Island Life’. The talk will be available online at a Zoom link shared via the VMSG email list.

We also have further seminars planned in Edinburgh and Birmingham, with more coming later in the year. Please do look out for further details via the VMSG email list. – Seb Watt and VMSG Committee

VMSG Sponsorship and Partnerships

As we build up to the 2025 Dublin meeting, VMSG is seeking sponsorship and new partnerships to support our activities for the coming year. We can offer a range of opportunities to potential sponsors including support for student bursaries, sponsorship of VMSG Awards, sponsorship of VMSG conference or a stand at the VMSG conference. We are also particularly interested in developing new partnership with organisations that can offer training and workshops for our community of early career researchers. Sponsors would be recognised on our website and in our newsletters, at our annual conference, and in other ways depending on the nature of the support (e.g. named awards).

If you are potentially interested in supporting VMSG then please get in touch with Lara Mani (VMSG Committee Member – Sponsorship and Partnerships). – VMSG Committee

VMSG Student Bursary Reports

The VMSG travel bursary facilitated lab work at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Milan completed in May 2024. The samples analysed as part of this PhD research are from the Kula Volcanic Province (KVP) in Western Türkiye, a monogenetic volcanic field experiencing three periods of Quaternary basaltic volcanism. The PhD aim is to identify the tectonic model through textural and geochemical analysis and determine the main compositional factors that have changed throughout the three stages of volcanic activity.

This work involved trace element analyses of the main mineral phases (clinopyroxene, amphibole, olivine, and plagioclase) performed using an Analyte excite 193 nm ArF excimer laser coupled with a Thermo Fisher Scientific iCAP-RQ mass spectrometer. The elements analysed included Li, Be, B, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Cs, Ba, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, Ta, Pb, Th, and U.

The data from this access will be used to explore the elemental changes in individual crystals and to see how these mineral phases have changed throughout the eruptive history of the KVP. This approach is a great way to show variation in elements from the core to the rim of crystals which can be used to provide insights into magma mixing, magma mingling, crystal growth, and crystallisation pathway.

Overall, this work facilitated hands-on experience using LA-ICP-MS, with knowledge gained on the fundamental principles of this method, including the types of standards used to generate good analysis, how to acquire precise quantitative elemental analysis, and how to perform data reduction to choose the best interval for background and signal measurement. – Megs Watfa (Brunel University London)

In February 2024, I had the privilege of attending the 12th meeting of Cities on Volcanoes, COV12, in Antigua, Guatemala, thanks to the support of the VMSG student bursary. COV conferences serve as an excellent opportunity to exchange knowledge across various disciplines of applied volcanology and promote collaboration among physical and social scientists, as well as with city officials.

As I am particularly interested in bridging the gap between physical volcanology and disaster risk reduction, this conference was a unique opportunity to share my research, particularly as I near the completion of my PhD. I presented two studies in poster format. The first focused on the role of gas in driving the dynamics and evolution of basaltic fissure eruptions, while the other introduced a new method for determining the scale in videos of volcanic eruptions using clast motion. These presentations, one in English and the other in Spanish, led to useful and motivating discussions with scientists from various parts of the world.

The conference comprised an incredible variety of presentations, including many subjects relevant to my own research focus such as advances in monitoring techniques, discussions on degassing dynamics and the architecture of volcanic plumbing systems. It also had a strong cultural component, with art exhibitions, film screenings, and concerts held across some of Antigua’s beautiful locations, which offered insights into the historical impact of other natural hazards such as earthquakes on the city.

Field trips to Pacaya and Fuego volcanoes educated us on the profound impact of volcanic hazards on nearby communities, such as the 2018 pyroclastic density currents from Fuego, which caused major destruction in the towns of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo. This tragedy underscores the need for improved hazard management, evacuation strategies, and communication with local communities, hence the relevance of this location for COV in facilitating dialogue between volcanologists, officials, and affected communities.

Volcanology as a discipline must take a multidisciplinary approach to improve eruption forecasting and mitigation efforts, and COV serves as an ideal platform to align research with the shared goal of mitigating volcanic risks and promoting community resilience. As an early career volcanologist, attending provided a myriad of opportunities to connect with other researchers and be exposed to the best of current research. I am very grateful to VMSG for providing travel support and look forward to participating in future COVs. – Ariane Loisel (Durham University)

VMSG Student Grants Directory

The Directory of Student Grants (some of which might also be relevant to non-students) has recently been updated. You can view it here. Please let Kerys Meredew know about any other opportunities we’ve missed, and we’ll get them added. – Kerys Meredew

VMSG2025 will be in Dublin!

The next VMSG Annual Meeting will be held on 6–8 January 2025 in Trinity College Dublin.

This will be a one-off joint meeting with the Mineral Deposits Studies Group (MDSG), with a combination of joint and parallel sessions.

The conference will include a series of workshops, fieldtrips and events looking at academic-industry collaboration, and attendees will have an opportunity to experience Irish culture from the historic city centre location!

Keep your eyes open for more news about this exciting meeting later in the year! – The Dublin LOC


And finally, I’d like to extend our congratulations to the VMSG President, Prof. Tamsin Mather, on her election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Well done Tamsin! Richly deserved. – VMSG Committee

Upcoming conferences

1st International Conference of the IAVCEI Commission on Volcanic & Igneous Plumbing Systems (VIPS), Liverpool, 18–20 June 2024, website

Goldschmidt 2024, Chicago, 18–23 August 2024, website

European Mineralogical Conference (EMC 2024), Dublin, 18–24 August 2024, abstract submission deadline of 22 March 2024, website

AGU Fall Meeting 2024, Washington D.C., 9-13 December 2023, abstract submission deadline of 31 July 2024, website

VMSG 2025 (with MDSG 2025), Dublin, 6–8 January 2025

EGU 2025, Vienna, 27 April–2 May 2025

IAVCEI 2025, Geneva, 29 June–4 July 2025, abstract submission deadline of 20 December 2024 (just missed session proposal deadline) website

Goldschmidt 2025, Prague, 6–11 July 2025

Any more?

Do you have any job opportunities, PhD viva celebrations, or funding announcements that you would like to advertise? If so, please get in touch with David Neave.

Any other business?

Stay in touch!

Don’t forget to keep in touch with us and other volcanologists around the world. There are several ways you can do this: through the VMSG PhD and ECR directory (here), the Arizona State University mailing list (here), and the VMSG mailing list (here).