Recent Newsletters

Newsletters from 2020 onwards will be posted in the blog feed below.

VMSG Newsletter #53

Iceland Volcanic Eruption 2021

No. 53: May 2022

“I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.” – John Peel


Dear all, welcome to the spring 2022 VMSG newsletter. This issue opens with a reflection on our common identity and goals as volcanologists. We’ve placed this item at front and centre as we feel it aligns with our ethos: it’s deeply important the VMSG is an open and welcoming group to all. Further on in this issue, we’re broadening our horizons as we take a look at conferences around the world. Culture vultures can feast on a book review, a science festival in rude health, and an explosive film premiere. Elsewhere, get motivated with a job round-up and call for VMSG awards and student bursaries. As ever, hope you enjoy. – Ailsa Naismith

Volcanologists: who are we and where are we going?

The past few months have seen a series of perspective pieces published in the Bulletin of Volcanology, in the Topical Collection Looking Backwards and Forwards in Volcanology: A Collection of Perspectives on the Trajectory of a Science. Following an open call for contributions from guest editors Kathy Cashman, Jon Fink and Freysteinn Sigmundsson, there are currently 27 articles that have been published, covering a huge range of themes in volcanology. One article is focused on the volcanologists themselves rather than the science they conduct.

In “Volcanologists—who are we and where are we going?”, Kavanagh et al. compiled data from memberships of international volcanology organisations (IAVCEI, AGU and EGU), positions on volcanology committees, volcanology awards (including the VMSG Thermo-Fisher award), keynote talks, editorial boards and lead-authorship on volcanology papers. The paper also collected new qualitative data on discrimination that members of the volcanology community have experienced or witnessed, with quotes from an online ethics-approved survey presented alongside maps, graphs and tables which quantify the lack of diversity in the international volcanology community.

IAVCEI membership and gender distribution in 2021

Figure 1 of the paper shows IAVCEI membership and gender distribution in 2021.

The data show discrimination related to gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability and socio-economic background is occurring, and that the intersection of these discriminations further exacerbates marginalisation within the volcanology community. The lead author of the study, Janine Kavanagh, told us that the article had been inspired in part by the equality, diversity and inclusion work that the VMSG committee had done with the previous Chair Sally Gibson, such as the EDI report led by Sam Engwell in 2020 and the online panel discussions led by Jenni Barclay in response to the #blacklivesmatter protests in 2020.

Call for VMSG awards & student bursaries

There is still time to submit nominations to the VMSG’s Willy Aspinall and Thermo-Fisher Awards. The awards recognize, respectively, the lead author of an outstanding paper on applied volcanology and an individual who has made a significant contribution to our understanding of volcanic and magmatic processes. More information is available for both nominations here: Willy Aspinall Award and Thermo-Fisher Award. Please note that these awards cannot be self-nominated, so we particularly encourage senior and/or busy members of our community to nominate others. Please send nominations to the VMSG Awards Officer ( by the deadline of Monday 6th June.

In addition to awards, the summer round of VMSG student bursaries is now open! These bursaries are for student members to cover fieldwork or conference expenses. The deadline is Monday 20th June. Find more details here.

The Geological Society – President’s Day

The VMSG’s parent society, the Geological Society, invites you to a series of special events on President’s Day, Wednesday 8th June. This day of events includes the Annual General Meeting (AGM), Society Awards and the Wollaston Medallist Lecture. All details below.

President’s Day, 8 June 2022: AGM, Society Awards and Wollaston Medallist Lecture

Geological Society of London logo

Annual General Meeting – 11:00-12:30 (BST). Fellows receive reports from Officers and Geoscientist’s Editor-in-Chief and formally approve the 2021 Annual Accounts and the new Council members elected in the preliminary ballot. All Geological Society Fellows and Student Members are welcome to attend so please register by 6th June 2022 to receive the papers and joining details.

Society Awards – 16:00-17:15 (BST). Join us to celebrate the 2022 Society Award winners’ achievements and contribution to the geoscience community. Register for free here.

Wollaston Medallist Lecture – 17:30-18:30 (BST). Professor Emeritus Tanya Atwater, geophysicist and marine geologist best known for creating the first magnetic isochron map of the northeast Pacific Ocean, will share her experiences and insights into the history of the plate revolution. All are welcome so please register here for this free virtual lecture. – Christina Marron

Conferences Round-up!

EGU: Vienna, Austria & online, 23 – 27 May 2022

The virtual conference centre (VCC) of the 2022 European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly.

The virtual conference centre of EGU 2022.

The 2022 General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) was held in late May in a hybrid format between Vienna and online. The conference gathered scientists from around the globe to discuss all kinds of topics in the disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences. Members of the VMSG were in attendance in groups such as GMPV (Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology, and Volcanology). In case you missed it, find out about the event by searching the hashtag “#EGU22” on Twitter.

Cities on Volcanoes 11: Heraklion, Crete & online, 12 – 17 June 2022

Cities on Volcanoes 11 Crete

Cities on Volcanoes 11 (COV11) will take place in hybrid format on 12 – 17 June 2022, between the Cultural Conference Centre of Heraklion, Crete, and online. Participants will discuss many parts of volcanology under the theme of “Volcanoes and Society: environment, health, and hazards”. The conference will be focused on multidisciplinary monitoring of volcanic environments in the vicinity of cities and highly touristic areas. At the same time, the ability to recognize volcanic hazards and their impact on people, emergency management by civil protection authorities, community education, case studies, and risk mitigation to reduce the impacts of volcanism and its effects on society will undoubtedly be discussed. Participants shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Knossos (a Bronze Age archaeological site) and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum (one of Europe’s most important museums, covering over 5500 years of the island’s history). Additionally, we will organize several field trips, including to Methana, Santorini, Psiloritis UNESCO Global Geopark, and Milos. We are also ready to provide high-quality virtual access to participants experiencing travel restrictions. COV11 will occur in hybrid format in order to enable the maximum number of interested members to participate.

Visit the Official CoV11 website here to find out more information about the Plenary Speakers, the complete Scientific Program , Virtual Access to the conference, and much more! – CoV Organising Committee

AGU Chapman Conference: Flagstaff, Arizona, 19 – 23 September 2022

Springerville Volcanic Field

The AGU Chapman conference on Distributed Volcanism and Distributed Volcanic Hazards will be held in Flagstaff, Arizona, on 19 – 23 September 2022.  Abstracts can be submitted here. Submission is open until Tuesday 7th June at 23:59 EDT (04:59 BST on Wednesday 8th June). More information is available here.

IAVCEI 2023: Rotorua, New Zealand, 30 Jan – 3 Feb 2023

Beautiful outcrop in New Zealand

Please save the date for the forthcoming IAVCEI Scientific Assembly! This meeting will be hosted in stunning Rotorua, New Zealand, on 30 Jan – 3 Feb 2023. The call for abstracts will be launched and registration will open in early June, so keep your eyes peeled. Interested people can find out more on the official conference website at, which includes key information for early career researchers (ECRs). We look forward to welcoming many of you early next year to beautiful New Zealand. – IAVCEI2023 Local Organizing Committee

Hawai’ian Adventures: VMSG Bursary Report

Emma Watts at Fissure 8 on Hawai'i

August 2020: COVID was rife, everyone was fed up and my trip to Hawaii was officially cancelled. Fast forward 18 months and something that had seemed like it was never going to happen became a reality! I had FINALLY made it to Hawaii (in one piece I might add)!

Starting in January 2022, as part of my NERC SPITFIRE DTP studentship at the University of Southampton, I began a 4-month research placement at the University of Hawai’i. The placement consisted of a physical volcanology project investigating tephra dispersal from Fissure 8 during the 2018 Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) eruption. Whilst my subsistence and living costs were covered by the DTP, funding had to be sourced for any research costs. I am eternally grateful to VMSG for contributing funds towards this phenomenal fieldwork opportunity.

The project, supervised by Professor Bruce Houghton, involved three fieldtrips to the Big Island of Hawai’i to carry out field measurements of the tephra around Ahu’aila’au (the Fissure 8 cone) with the aim of characterising the transport and deposition of the widespread tephra deposit of Fissure 8. At each measurement location (57 in total) the thickness of the deposit and dimensions of the largest clasts were measured alongside in-field grainsize analysis of the coarse clasts. Representative samples of the finer clasts were collected and taken back to the University of Hawai’i for further grainsize analysis. Many of the techniques used within this project were completely new to me before the trip so I am extremely appreciative of Professor Houghton and the University of Hawai’i for teaching me all they did.

Since returning from the field, I have created an isopach map, carried out the remaining grainsize analysis, and done some modelling. My results are currently being written up as a manuscript to share with the volcanology community, so keep your eyes peeled.

Alongside learning numerous new techniques and carrying out fieldwork (which I have been unable to do in my PhD research area due to geopolitical issues), I was also able to participate in the graduate explosive volcanism course at the University of Hawai’i and activities within the research group. This gave an extra side to the placement experience by further developing my knowledge and skillset as well as getting to meet some amazing people.

When I first learnt about volcanoes at school, Kilauea was one of the case studies. I’ve since taught upcoming geography and geology students about the Hawai’ian volcanoes so it was a dream come true to go and carry out research there. Mahalo VMSG. – Emma Watts

Job round-up

We have included below a short, non-exhaustive list of current vacancies.

Micro-CT Lab Manager

The post holder will manage the Natural History Museum’s micro-CT laboratory, with responsibilities including facility development, operation of micro-CT instrumentation, and data processing for visitors and customers. The role involves management of a dynamic laboratory, training users to a high level of skill and conducting research relevant to micro-CT. Closing date Wednesday 15th June 2022. More details here.

Lecturer in Environmental Geoscience

The University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology & the Environment is seeking appointment of a Lecturer in Environmental Geoscience. The successful candidate will ideally bring knowledge in spatial analysis and/or big data and will join a flourishing school with a growing body of work at the interface with sustainability and environmental issues. Closing date is Tuesday 5th July 2022. More details here.


The British Geological Survey (BGS) is seeking a hydrogeochemist to join their team. Role responsibilities include contributions to current projects in hydrogeochemical applications to subsurface geothermal development, characterisation of baseline groundwater chemistry and groundwater pollution assessments. Activities will involve groundwater sampling, interpretation of hydrogeochemical data, contributing to technical reports, and communication with collaborators and clients. Closing date is Friday 3rd June 2022. More details here.

Book review: Supervolcanoes

We are pleased to publish a book review from two of our members, Dawid Rybak and Kate Williams. Dawid and Kate read Supervolcanoes: What They Reveal about Earth and the Worlds Beyond, written by Dr. Robin George Andrews and published by W. W. Norton & Company. Our reviewers eloquently share below what they thought:

“This book is a narrative that allows rigorous scientific minds to go on a journey of discovery using stories portrayed through the lens of individual researchers, multidisciplinary teams and scientific debate. The author pulled enough scientific ingredients for all earth scientists to play around, juggle and have fun hypothesising about earthly and planetary evolution, and what role volcanoes play within these.

Volcanoes eject sulphurous plumes on Jupiter's Galilean moon, Io.

When starting to read this book, the expectation is that the focus and interest will be centered on terrestrial volcanism and famous supervolcanoes such as Kilaeua Volcano and Yellowstone. In fact, the lack of focus on this is a credit to the author. Instead it leaves the reader in awe of the connections between planetary-scale geological phenomena, atmospherics and existence of life. The later chapters are where this book comes to life, with the otherworldly nature of the volcanism on Io and Enceladus overshadowing the previous chapters, particularly ice volcanoes and volcanoes that can alter the tilt of a planet.

The freedom with which this book has been written rejuvenates the pure scientific spirit and provides an escape from the minute details of a researcher’s life, reminding us why our research matters and how it contributes to scientific exploration. This book is a great introductory book to complex concepts, and would be a fantastic way to encourage new scientists to begin their own journeys into volcanology.” – Dawid Rybak & Kate Williams

Please note that Dawid and Kate provided this review without compensation. However, the publishers are pleased to offer VMSG members an exclusive discount. To order Super Volcanoes: What they Reveal about Earth and the Worlds Beyond at a special member discount of 30% please click here and add the code WN001 when prompted at the checkout.

Pint Of Science: 10 year special!

We’re thrilled to spotlight several members of our community who recently participated in Pint of Science 2022. Pint of Science is an international research festival in which scientists share their research with people in local public spaces such as cafés, bars, and pubs. The festival, which celebrated its 10th birthday this year, allowed thousands of speakers in 400 cities in 24 countries to discuss their work. You can see our dynamic speakers and their results in the slideshow below, and hear what they thought about their event:

Ed McGowan wows the audience at Leicester's 'Planet Earth' theme.
Chiara Petrone and her colourful presentation for Pint of Science London at the NHM
Katy Chamberlain's slides for her talk, CSI Volcano: Crystal Detectives.
Margherita Polacci's explosive slides for Pint's "The Rumbling Earth" event in Manchester..
Fabian Wadsworth presents his work virtually, invoking Minecraft to talk about obsidian!
Screenshot 2022-05-30 at 09.33.55
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  1. Ed McGowan: “This year saw Pint of Science celebrate its 10th anniversary. The event brings researchers and the public together in a more relaxing, informal environment to talk about science! As an event organizer and speaker for Leicester’s ‘Planet Earth’-themed segment, I enjoyed seeing everyone come together and have a great time; whether it was to learn something new, or to support your colleagues during a talk. My talk was on my ‘Volcanoes in Videogames” research, showing how although virtual volcanoes live in a fake world, subject to the manipulations of developers, they often display many realistic features that we can also see in real volcanoes across the world.”
  2. Chiara Petrone: “I love Pint of Science, it is so fun to talk about science in such a relaxing environment with a genuinely enthusiastic audience. It is the second time that I have been invited to talk about volcanoes at Pint of Science – the first one was in 2018. I have fond memories of the pre-pandemic event and this year it was even better. In fact, there was the extra excitement due to my first in-person post-pandemic public outreach event. During the night, there was a volcano-related pub quiz with the audience performing really well. The best part of the evening was a teacher who come to listen still remembering my talk in 2018. I was completely overwhelmed by her enthusiasm and support. How could I not love it!”.
  3. Katy Chamberlain: “”I had a great time at my first Pint of Science, and got excellent questions from the wonderful Middlesbrough audience”.
  4. Margherita Polacci: In this session I talked about implications of volcanic eruptions for natural catastrophes. I highlighted the role of volcano scientists in improving eruption dynamics understanding and predictions, drawing from my personal experience as a volcanologist and that from peer colleagues in this field.

Fire on Film

Fire of Love at Sundance Film Festival: London 2022

The London showing of the international Sundance Film Festival will take place at Picturehouse Central on 9 – 12 June 2022. This year’s festival includes the UK premiere of “FIRE OF LOVE”. The film’s story follows two French volcanologists who embark on a love story that will get them killed. Many volcanologists will know the couple Maurice and Katia Krafft: this film shows the subject of their shared passion through explosive imagery never before seen.

We’re thrilled to offer the VMSG network discounted tickets to the UK premiere. By simply entering the voucher code SFL10000000015040 at the checkout of the Picturehouse website, you can receive a £10 ticket (normally £17.20). – John-Paul Pierrot

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).

VMSG Newsletter #52

No. 52: March 2022

“People have the power to redeem the work of fools.” – Patti Smith


Good morning, good evening, and welcome to another VMSG newsletter. In the midst of an uncertain world, we are happy to invite you over the threshold. Please come in! Take your shoes off and exchange for a pair of comfy house slippers, and settle down for a cheerful read. This quarter brings well wishes from our new VMSG Chair, Prof. Tamsin Mather, and a farewell from outgoing Chair, Prof. Sally Gibson. Our main item is the wildly successful vVMSG conference, hosted online by the University of Manchester in early January. We celebrate our registrants who signed in from all over the world, champion our prize winners, and share our newly-hatched mentoring scheme. There’s even a juicy movie review! Beyond vVMSG2022, we look at international volcanological internships and talk about an exciting new collab. Read it and weep (with joy). – Ailsa Naismith

Welcome from our new Chair

Welcome to our first VMSG newsletter of 2022! VMSG is a community very close to my heart, having been my first introduction to the vibrant group of volcano- and magma-philes based in the UK and Ireland about 20 years ago. It is a great honour to take over from Sally as Chair – she will be a hard act to follow! The virtual VMSG meeting held ‘in’ Manchester has already been a highlight of my year and I have huge gratitude to all involved in making it happen, especially the Local Organising Committee. Although we were sad not to meet in person there were also opportunities from the virtual experience, including drawing in expertise internationally; for example, for the very stimulating panel discussions, and taking a virtual field trip to the Moon. The story of the seatbelt basalt gave me the sense that the astronauts understood a geologist’s tendency to lust after that last interesting looking rock even with all the distractions of being literally out of this world – it’s a powerful emotion! I also really enjoyed participating in the inaugural buddy program and hope that many of you also found this a useful opportunity to make new connections. We are extremely hopeful that next year we will be able to return to meeting in person and are excited about this prospect; but we hope to take some of the benefits that we have learnt from virtual meetings into the future also. In any case as we look forward to the year ahead and wonder what it might hold, I am very grateful to be part of such a dedicated committee and energetic community. – Tamsin Mather

Farewell from Sally

It’s been a huge honour to serve as the Chair of VMSG for the last 4 years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great team of people, who never ceased to amaze me with their commitment, enthusiasm, energy and ideas (and sense of fun!). The willingness of members of the committee to adopt dedicated roles allowed us to operate in an efficient and productive way, which really came into its own during the Covid pandemic. These were challenging times for us all but, as so often happens, positives arise through adversity.

In 2020 we were able to conduct a survey and find out, for the first time, who we the VMSG community really are. The virtual VMSG winter meetings in 2021 and 2022 illustrated our international reach and the full breadth of our science, and allowed participation by those who might not otherwise be able to attend in-person meetings. We were also able to interact with the amazing volcanic landscapes of NW Scotland, Namibia and the Moon, and if so inclined watch wacky movies, join in pub quizzes and do virtual yoga! By overhauling our website and setting up a VMSG YouTube channel there are now more resources that are readily-accessible by the VMSG community.

Over the last 4 years we’ve also made important changes and additions to our awards and bursary schemes, which include recognition for the importance of fieldwork (Henry Emeleus Fund) and the contributions of the ECR community (ZEISS award). By working with colleagues in our umbrella organisations (the Geological Society of London and the Mineralogical Society of the UK and Ireland), and via virtual panel discussions, VMSG has made significant progress in ensuring we have policies in place to make all in our community feel welcome at our events, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. I am pleased that many of the VMSG initiatives have now been adopted by other Special Interest Groups, which highlights the importance of sharing ideas and working together.

While the last 4 years as Chair of VMSG have been busy, there is still much more to be done, especially with monitoring our progress with EDI and developing outreach and engagement policies. These will allow VMSG to better connect with those who might not be familiar with our science or know how to get involved. I’m delighted to pass on the Chair person’s baton to Prof Tamsin Mather, whom I wish all the best in her new role, and who I know will bring fresh energy and ideas. I look forward to supporting and interacting with old and new members of the VMSG community in the future. – Sally A. Gibson

Special Feature: vVMSG2022

vVMSG2022 was a resounding success! We were thrilled to have a whopping 405 registrants and an excellent crop of talks and posters. We were super impressed by the quality of this year’s entries. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Local Organizing Committee at the University of Manchester (David Neave, Margaret Hartley, and Brendan McCormick Kilbride), who put together an amazing and stimulating conference. Thanks also go to all presenters, who produced outstanding work. And a huge thanks to all those who participated! – VMSG Committee

Registration Statistics

We were thrilled to repeat the international flavour of vVMSG2021 by welcoming registrants from all around the world. vVMSG2022 received people from a huge range of countries, career stages, genders, and sexualities, and inclusion of people identifying as disabled and/or neurodivergent. Of the 405 registrants, 367 attended from all six permanently inhabited continents: 324 from Europe, 7 from Africa, 2 from North America, 8 from Asia, 10 from South America, and 16 from Australasia. Especial thanks go to those who attended the conference from very different time zones. In 2023, perhaps we can have someone tuning in from Antarctica?!

Hello world!

We want the VMSG community to be diverse and welcoming to all. The pie chart below shows the wide mix of ethnicities who attended vVMSG2022. – Jazmin Scarlett

Student Prize Winners

Annika Voight (University of Oxford) won the Bob Hunter Prize for Best Student Talk. Her talk, “Experimental investigation of trachydacite magma storage prior to the 1257 eruption of Mt Samalas”, was recognised for its outstanding quality. Holly Unwin (Lancaster University) and Pip Liggins (University of Cambridge) received Honourable Mentions for their talks on “Tracking volcanic conduit wall stability during evolution of the Mule Creek Vent, USA” and “The fingerprints of volcanism: secondary atmospheres on rocky planets”, respectively.

Annika smiling in front of a lil’ volcano – well done!

Annabelle Foster (Durham University) won the Geoff Brown Prize for Best Student Poster with her excellent contribution, “Explosive textures found in rhyolitic lava, Hrafntinnuhryggur, Iceland”. Laura Wainman (University of Cambridge) and Alice Paine (University of Oxford) received Honourable Mentions for their entries on “The climatic impact of the 1257 Samalas eruption” and “Why lacustrine mercury records may not be good records of large volcanic eruptions”, respectively.

Annabelle, winner of the Best Student Poster prize – congrats!

VMSG Award

In August, we were pleased to announce Dr. Dan Morgan as the winner of the ThermoFisher Scientific VMSG Award for 2022, for his contributions across a distinguished career in the fields of igneous petrology, mineralogy, and isotope geoscience (find a summary of his work here). Dan was presented with his award at vVMSG2022 and gave a keynote talk titled, “”Diffusion methods in volcanic petrology: where have we come from and where are we going?”. Congratulations to Dan for a very well-directed talk!

Zeiss Postdoctoral Keynote Award

We recently announced that Dr. Penny Wieser is the award winner of the VMSG Zeiss Postdoctoral Award. Penny is a postdoc at Oregon State University and soon-to-be Assistant Professor of Igneous Petrology & Volcanology at UC Berkeley. A summary of her work can be found here. At January’s vVMSG2022 Penny gave an invited keynote presentation for her winning abstract on ‘Thermobar: an open-source Python3 tool for thermobarometry’. Thermobar, which can be found here, is a user friendly open-source tool allowing for rapid assessment of mineral-mineral or mineral-melt equilibrium and subsequent pressure-temperature calculations. – Eilish Brennan

VMSG Buddy Scheme

At vVMSG 2022, we trialled a new conference buddy scheme in response to suggestions made at our open PhD and ECR forums at vVMSG 2021. Members of the VMSG community had the opportunity to sign up for the buddy scheme upon registration, either as a Junior Buddy (who hadn’t previously attended a VMSG conference) or as a Senior Buddy (more experienced conference goers). Buddies were then encouraged to connect with each other both before and during the conference, including giving feedback on presentations where relevant. Feedback from the buddies was really positive, particularly in helping to foster social engagement during the online format. For example, one of our junior buddies commented: “It was nice to also have a social interaction with someone new which is something I really miss compared to in-person conferences.” 50 people took part in the scheme this year, and we encourage the community to volunteer as a senior buddy next year. One of our senior buddies said, “I think it’s a rewarding experience for the senior buddy and I would have appreciated having one when I was getting started with VMSG!”. Feel free to get in touch with any extra comments on how we might best evolve this scheme next year, when we will hopefully meet in person again! – Claire Harnett

Presentation Feedback

We are really pleased to note we had 57 students that requested individual feedback on their conference talks and posters! We really feel this is a friendly environment where presenters can seek and receive supportive and constructive feedback. – VMSG Committee

Airplane vs Volcano: the VMSG 2022 Film Guide

“Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring”. So said Johnny Cash.

I love volcanoes. I love disaster movies. This one has a ring of volcanoes which trap an airliner. The Venn diagram here should be working in my favour. When this film was announced as the VMSG2022 film night showing, my wife and I popped some popcorn, and sat down for (*checks IMDB*) 131 minutes of rollercoaster. And, let me be honest, it felt like at least 131 minutes. You know how sometimes you start a film and you get absorbed and engrossed then the credits roll and you pop out the other side wondering where your evening has gone?  This is not that film.

That’s not to say it isn’t fun. It hits all the classic disaster movie tropes: the scientist no one believes, the isolated expert, the authoritarian military leader, the rogue who doesn’t follow orders, the passenger who has to fly the plane. It’s all tied together with some not bad special effects, and both the acting and cinematography are a step up from what you sometimes come to expect from these kinds of things. I think the best compliment I can give this film is that I was able to sit back and munch my popcorn and merrily ride along with it. But oh my, the script. I’ll let an excerpt from one of the opening scenes speak for the film:

“Massive amounts of pressure are forcing submerged volcanoes to come to the surface, Colonel. This is only the beginning. And it’s only gonna get worse.”

Don’t get me wrong – the plot is bad too. It has holes that you could drop a volcano into – that you could drop a whole ring of volcanoes into. I won’t spoil what little plot there is, because you SHOULD watch this film. If only for the occasional, healthy, grounding realisation we all need; that no matter how much time, effort, and research funding we collectively put into improving our understanding of volcanic processes and hazards, we may as well be rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic as far as the disaster movie industry is concerned. And long may that continue. – Pete Rowley

Internships Call-out!

The VMSG Committee are planning to put together a list of international internships focussed on volcanology and magmatic studies. This is to support younger members of our community find new opportunities for practical work experience. If you know of an internship scheme, program or opportunity that you think fits this profile, please get in touch! Contact Ed McGowan at . – Ed McGowan

Volcán de Colima, taken by Lucia Capra.

GeoCoLab: working towards equity in analytic geoscience research

Dr Rebecca Williams (Geology, University of Hull) led a Hackathon team who participated in NERC’s Digital Technologies to Open Up Environmental Sciences Digital Sprint over a three week period in September 2021. The team investigated EDI issues in analytical geoscience including an analysis of journal articles that underpin a global geochemical database, and an international survey of geoscience researchers. The team concluded that parachute science is observed in analytical geoscience, and this leads to inequities in published research. Of interest to the VMSG community is that this analysis focussed on the PetDB database of igneous geochemistry. The survey suggests that some groups have preferential access to analytical facilities and associated funding and that those with minority identities in the UK and those from the Global South are more likely to be excluded from access to analytical facilities. This ‘analytical facilities access gap’ negatively affects success and retention in research, impacting diversity in geoscience.

During the hackathon, the team developed a proto app – GeoCoLab. This is an online collaborative platform that ‘matchmakes’ under-served Geoscience researchers (e.g., unfunded ECRs, minority researchers, those from the Global South) who need access to analytical services with Collaborating Laboratory facilities who have agreed to offer a quota of pro-bono services. The aim of the app is to close the access gap, leading to greater equity in geoscience research.

GeoCoLab has been awarded funding from NERC’s EDI Digital Sprint funding call to develop and launch the app, and to expand the EDI research on parachute science in analytical geoscience and the analytical facilities access gap. The team includes researchers from the Universities of Derby, Aberdeen and Newcastle, the British Geological Survey, the Natural History Museum and two PDRAs at Hull.

If you run a laboratory or analytical facility and would be interested in partnering with the project, you can find out more on our GitHub. We’d also love to hear about individual experiences via our survey on the impacts of analytical access (or lack thereof) on research careers which is still open for responses here. To stay up to date with what we’re up to as the project develops, follow us @GeoCoLab on Twitter. – Rebecca Williams

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).

VMSG Newsletter #51

No. 51: November 2021

“The times, they are a-changing.” – Some bloke


Whoa. We’re approaching the end of 2021 already … how did that happen?! While we ponder the fickleness of time, let us also be thankful that it’s back to slipping through our fingers, rather than the slow treacle of 2020. This newsletter announces many changes. This includes within the VMSG Committee, as we welcome both our new Chair and three new committee members. We also celebrate the transitions of fellow students (of whom we’re always proud) to graduates, and wonder at how rapidly things shift even on unyielding rock (any excuse to display an outcrop). Looking towards the New Year, we are excited about the return of conferences, both on our turf with vVMSG2022 and those further afield. Let’s get stuck in! – Ailsa Naismith

VMSG Committee is changing!

New VMSG Chair

We are delighted to announce that the next Chair of the VMSG will be Professor Tamsin Mather (Oxford)! Tamsin says:

“I am really excited to be taking over as VMSG chair. I gave my first PhD conference talk at a VMSG meeting many years ago and it played a key role in introducing me to the UK community. Sally will be a hard act to follow but is leaving the committee in excellent shape full or ideas and energy to take things forward. I am very much looking forward to working with you all.”

Tamsin starts her position in January 2022, so please join us at vVMSG2022 to welcome her and to thank our current Chair Prof. Sally Gibson for all her work steering the VMSG ship over the past four years. – VMSG Committee

New VMSG Committee Members

We’re extending a warm welcome to not one, not two, but three new members of the VMSG Committee. Lara Mani will be joining us as our new Outreach and Public Engagement Rep, Eilish Brennan will be starting her role as Student Rep shadowing Em for 1 year, and Ed McGowan will be the new Web Manager. Please join us in welcoming them all and wishing them well in their new roles! – VMSG Committee


Roll up, roll up – abstract submission for vVMSG2022 is now open! vVMSG2022 is the virtual annual meeting of the Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group, taking place on 10th – 12th January 2022. The meeting is being organised by the University of Manchester and hosted online by the Geological Society of London.

Find full details of the meeting can be found here. And find more information on our new conference buddy scheme here! A provisional schedule will be uploaded shortly.

We welcome abstract submissions on any aspect of volcanism and magmatism, from mantle heterogeneity to magma dynamics, gas emissions, hazard management, and planetary volcanism. The deadline for abstract submission is 30th November 2021. Meeting registration will close shortly before the conference begins. You can find abstract templates on the conference website. Please send completed templates to the following email address:      

Postdocs who wish for their submission to be considered for the Zeiss Post-doctoral Keynote Award should email their application form completed with the template provided below alongside their abstract. Full details about this award can be found on the VMSG website ( – David Neave, Margaret Hartley, Brendan McCormick Kilbride (Local Organising Committee, University of Manchester)

How Times Change

BEFORE AND AFTER … the changing face of a lamprophyre bed.

The upper photograph shows a lamprophyre bed described in the Scottish Journal of Geology in 2008 (details here). The lower photo is how the outcrop appears today – inaccessible and would be ignored by budding VMSG members! – Richard Batchelor

EGU Session Announcement

EGU Session on Magma-Sediment Interaction

Dear colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to a new EGU session in the GMPV9 – Volcanic processes: GMPV9.7 Magma-sediment interaction at the subseafloor: mechanisms and role in the Earth CPL-Cycles (Carbon-, Plate-, Life-Cycles).

The goal of this session is to share updates on research related to magma-sediment interaction occurring in the first 500m of active sedimentary basins and to explore the implications and role this interaction may play in the Earth CPL-Cycles (Carbon-, Plate-, Life-Cycles). More details can be found here: We welcome contributions from diverse research approaches including, but not restricted to, the following disciplines: volcanology, sedimentology, geochemistry, hydrothermal research, microbiology.

Feel free to disseminate this invitation further. We look forward to receiving your abstracts! – Tara Stephens

EGU General Assembly details

The upcoming EGU General Assembly 2022 (EGU22) will take place as usual in Vienna, Austria from 3rd – 8th April 2022. The organizing committee of EGU22 aims to provide a hybrid experience that is on-site as well as virtual. For further information, please consult the official website:


  • Abstract submission deadline: 12 January 2022, 12:00 GMT. Find out how to submit an abstract here.
  • Travel support application deadline: 1 December 2021, 12:oo GMT. Find out more here.

Amber Madden-Nadeau VIVA!

Congratulations to Amber for successfully passing her viva in October 2021! Amber presented her thesis, “Silicic caldera volcanism and the 1883 eruption of Krakatau volcano, Indonesia” (supervised by Mike Cassidy, David Pyle, and Tamsin Mather) to examiners Tom Gernon (Southampton) and Conall Mac Niocaill (Oxford). Find out more about her research here. – Mike Cassidy

New initiative

We love to celebrate our PhD students, who are the heart of our community. That’s why the VMSG is starting a new ongoing item in our newsletter: announcement of recent PhDs awarded!

If you have recently been awarded a PhD, please write to us with the following details – title, PhD student’s name, supervisor(s)’ name together with the awarding institute. We also welcome input from supervisors on behalf of their students. If you have a graphical highlight from the thesis we would also love to feature this!

This will be an ongoing initiative, with announcements going out in the quarterly newsletter. – VMSG Committee

GIS for Geoscientists workshop

The VMSG GIS for Geoscientists Workshop has been taking place throughout November 2021 via 4 webinars, with additional material also available on our YouTube channel. The course has been delivered by Nick Barber (Cambridge) and facilitated by Claire Harnett (Dublin) and Emma Watts (Southampton). More than 450 of you registered, which is a testament to the vibrant VMSG community. This workshop was organized as a direct consequence of the PhD and ECR forums at the VMSG Annual Meeting in 2021, and we were delighted to see that 76% of registrants are early career scientists! The course introduces key QGIS concepts, including an interactive tour of the software interface, hazard assessment, manipulating data, map design, geostatistics, as well as advanced uses such as integration of Python and Google Earth Engine.

You can find a YouTube playlist of videos here and additional resources, including PDF guides to each webinar (!!), on GitHub here.

A massive thanks to Nick Barber particularly for all his hard work on creating content and organizing this, and to Claire and Emma for facilitating! – VMSG Committee

Fieldwork report

Here we have a wonderful report from the 2020 winner of the Henry Emeleus Fieldwork award, Steven Walker, on his investigation into magmatic evolution of the Palaeogene Igneous Province, Mull, Scotland:

“It was a tremendous privilege to receive the Henry Emeleus Award earlier this year, contributing to my PhD studies at Edge Hill University. The project focuses on the stratigraphic evolution of the Palaeogene volcanic sequence outcropping in the Isle of Mull, Scotland, and the underlying magmatic processes involved during its evolution. I have the upmost honour to be able to contribute to the understanding of the British Palaeogene Igneous Province and the esteemed geological heritage surrounding the Isle of Mull, described by Bailey et al., (1924) in their seminal Mull Geological Memoir.

Through my PhD fieldwork aided by the Henry Emeleus Award, myself and my primary supervisor, Dr Joaquín Cortés, headed out on the 11th July, to arrive in hot and sunny conditions on the Isle of Mull. We were extremely lucky not to encounter the dreaded midges and we experienced scorching hot sun with light winds for the most part of the excursion, with the inevitable rain and low cloud cover for some field days.

The aim of the fieldwork was to collect a stratigraphically constrained sequence of the lava products, representing the temporal changes in the sequence. During the excursion we were able to determine a clear lithostratigraphy based on field relationships supported by the mineralogy determined in the volcanic products. We carefully looked for the flow-by-flow stratigraphy, sampling and tracing them up the stratigraphy using the iconic “traps” topography. We also correlated several flows across the extent of the north and south-western areas, based on field observations. The main observation prevalent throughout all the stratigraphy was the transition from basalts into more evolved trachytic flows, with distinct mineralogical changes. In a small number of visited locations we found outcrops which are different from those reported in the literature. This is extremely interesting, and I will be looking at it in more detail during the project.

I am currently preparing samples for petrography and geochemical analysis, which will be accomplished in the coming months. The aim is to identify the temporal evolution of the rocks with a more in-depth look into textural and geochemical changes over time. By doing so, my PhD aims to gain knowledge on magma chamber dynamics through combined textural, petrological and geochemical modelling. This broader goal will feed into modelling the magmatic system active at Mull during the Palaeogene.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank VMSG for this award and I am most grateful for their contribution toward my study. If you are interested in this work, feel free to get in contact with me at” – Steven Walker

VMSG student bursaries

Final reminder that applications for the December round of VMSG student bursaries are open. These are awards to support fieldwork or conference attendance (including virtual conferences). You must be a current research student, have previously presented a talk or poster at a VMSG conference, and have not been a previous awardee of a student bursary. Deadline is 1st December so get cracking! Details available here. – Nick Gardiner

VMSG PhD list: out now!

The VMSG PhD list for 2021/2022 is out now! This list shows the volcanology- and mantle-themed PhD projects that are currently available to apply to, for project start in autum 2022. The list will continue to be updated as all universities release projects and details. Please note that the projects all have different deadlines, and some are fast approaching, so please check carefully!

Find the list here.

If you have a project that you would like to be included, then email Emma Watts (VMSG Student Rep) at and she will add it ASAP. – Emma Watts

Any Other Business?

Keep connected

While you’re here, don’t forget to keep in touch with us and other volcanologists around the world. 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).

VMSG Newsletter #50

No. 50: August 2021

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” – Plautus


Hello, halò, dia dhuit, helô and greetings to everyone. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the 50th VMSG newsletter! This very special issue is brimming with news and reviews, calls and shout-outs, and befitting to its milestone installment celebrates the people and projects that have contributed to the newsletter over the years.

Many of us are sensing the shift of seasons and the call of a new academic term. The VMSG Committee is anticipating change, too. We are recruiting for a new VMSG Chair as Sally Gibson will end her tenancy in January 2022. She will be missed and her shoes hard to fill. We will also soon be seeking a new Student Rep, to shadow Emma Watts for a few months before they take over from her very capable leadership.

Because this is such a bumper issue, here is a wee guide to what you’ll find below: VMSG Committee is Recruiting! – VMSG Awards – VMSG2022 – Geological Society Awards – GVCh Collaboration – IAVCEI Shout-out – 50 Special! – Fieldtrips Call – IVESPA – ESRL – Upcoming Workshops – ECR Directory – ESWN surveys – Mailing lists – Outro. Phwoar. I invite you all to raise a glass or a mug to our diverse and accomplished community. Happy reading, all! – Ailsa Naismith

VMSG Committee is Recruiting!

Recruiting for VMSG Chair

We are now accepting applications for the position of Chair of the VMSG Committee. The appointment is for 3 years beginning January 2022. The Chair of the VMSG has duties related to advancing the study of disciplines within volcanology and petrology and ensuring a supporting and inclusive environment for our community. The Chair presides over the VMSG Committee and represents the community at various meetings of other geological organizations, including Min Soc Council, Special Interest Group meetings of Geol Soc London and the UK Panel for IUGG .

If interested, you should submit a brief description about yourself and your interest in the role (max one A4 page) to the VMSG Secretary. Please include a profile picture with your application. Please also forward this invitation to any individuals you believe might be interested and encourage them to apply!

Please contact the current Chair, Professor Sally Gibson, the VMSG Secretary, Dr. Janine Kavanagh, or any of the committee members with any questions about the role and your application:

The deadline for applications is Friday 3rd September and please send your application to the VMSG Secretary ( – Janine Kavanagh

Recruiting for VMSG Student Rep

We’re also about to start recruiting a new Student Rep for the VMSG Committee. The VMSG recognises the importance of the contributions made by MSci and PhD students to our community, and one of our key goals is to actively support and encourage their research.. The ideas and concerns of the MSci and PhD students are communicated by the student rep, who sits on the VMSG Committee for a term of two years. The new student rep will shadow our current rep,  Emma Watts, for a few months before her term ends. The student rep is typically appointed via a community election so watch this space (and the VMSG mailing list) like a hawk for announcements! – VMSG Committee

VMSG Awards

The VMSG Committee has recently revised the protocol for award nominations and bursary applications. We want to make this as transparent a process as possible and this item gives you a quick guide to the awards available, guidelines for how to apply, and recent statistics. Our priority is to encourage applications and nominations from across the VMSG community and support equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels. This builds on our recent EDI initiatives (see Panel 1 discussion here).

Awards available

  • Student bursaries (info)
  • Willy Aspinall award (info)
  • ThermoFisher award (info)
  • Post-doctoral keynote award (info)


Detailed guidelines for how to apply for specific awards and bursaries appear in the links above. Below is a brief overview of award details in the format (deadlines; criteria; amount awarded):

  • Student bursaries (rolling application deadline, research student/has presented at a VMSG annual meeting/has not been previously awarded monies from the scheme, £500)
  • Willy Aspinall Award (nomination deadline 1st June; nominated paper must have been published within three years of the award of the nominee’s PhD; £400, certificate, and invited talk at VMSG annual meeting)
  • ThermoFisher award (nomination deadline 1st June; nominee has made a significant contribution to our current understanding of volcanic and magmatic processes; invited keynote talk at VMSG annual meeting)
  • Post-doctoral keynote award (self-nomination at time of submitting abstract to VMSG annual meeting; is post-PhD level and does not have a permanent academic position; invited keynote talk at VMSG annual meeting)

We would like to emphasize that we can only judge from the nominations for awards that we receive – and that this is a community-wide effort – so please be encouraged to put yourself forward, either through self-nomination for the post-doctoral keynote award, or by requesting nominations from your colleagues. We particularly encourage applications from historically under-represented groups. – VMSG Committee

Award Statistics

ThermoFisher statistics

  • 3/14 (21%) female award winners since 2010
  • 5/29 (17% female) nominations since 2010
  • Since 2010, 9/29 (31%) proposers were female (all since 2016)
  • 1/14 (7%) of winners since 2010 had a female proposer
  • 21 proposers since 2010 (7 repeat proposers)
  • 8 times the proposer of the TF award winner was themselves a TF award winner at the time of award (or afterwards)

 – Provided by Jazmin Scarlett & Janine Kavanagh

Thermo-Fisher Award Winner – Dan Morgan

We recently announced that Dr. Dan Morgan is the recipient of the Thermo-Fisher Scientific VMSG Award for 2022. Dan is Associate Professor of Igneous Petrology & Volcanology at the University of Leeds, UK. A summary of his work can be found here. Dan describes his work below:

“My research interests stem from the interplay of crystal textures and crystal zoning in volcanic rocks. Much of my work has looked at diffusion within crystals as a mechanism to place constraints on short-term volcanic processes occurring in the days and months prior to eruption. Current work is looking at how we can better refine the models used to incorporate dynamic links between crystal growth and simultaneous diffusion to avoid convolving effects.”

The Thermo-Fisher Scientific VMSG Award will be presented to Dan at vVMSG2022, where he will give a keynote presentation. We really hope you will be able to join us for our annual conference in early January 2022 (see next item!). Congratulations, Dan! – Sally Gibson (Chair) & Nick Gardiner (Awards Officer)


We are thrilled to invite you to the next annual meeting of VMSG, vVMSG2022, which will be held online on the 10-12th January 2022 and hosted by the University of Manchester.

Although we would love to invite you to Manchester in person, together with the VMSG committee, we have decided that the best way to ensure VMSG2022’s scientific and financial success will involve running a virtual ​winter meeting. We hope to build on the excellent vVMSG 2021 meeting, and plan to run a similar programme of afternoon sessions bracketed by workshops and social activities.

We will welcome submissions on any aspect of volcanic and magmatic studies, from mantle heterogeneity to magma dynamics, gas emissions, hazard management and planetary volcanism. We anticipate abstract submission and registration deadlines falling at the end of November and December respectively.

And finally, a teaser. We hope to ​invite you to a bonus 2-day, in-person VMSG in ​Manchester in the early summer ​of 2022 focused on enabling the kinds of discussions and early career networking that can sometimes be challenging to reproduce in a virtual environment. Stay tuned … – vVMSG2022 local organising committee (David Neave, Margaret Hartley & Brendan McCormick Kilbride)

Geological Society Awards

Geological Society Awards 2022

There are just over five weeks to submit nominations for the Geological Society Awards 2022 (closing date for all nominations is 30 September 2021). Below is more information about specific awards. However, more details of all awards can be found on the GeolSoc website. The application form for all awards can be found here – please note that the President’s Awards require a separate form available below.

Wollaston, Murchison, Lyell and William Smith Funds

These Funds are awarded to early career geoscientists who have made excellent contributions to geoscience research and its application, in the UK and internationally. Recipients must be within ten years (full time equivalent) of the award of their first degree in geoscience or a cognate subject. The individual Funds are given for contributions in the fields defined by the Society’s Medals of the same name (see website). The Funds are each accompanied by the award of £500.

President’s Awards

Two President’s Awards are conferred upon early career geoscientists who are within eight years (full time equivalent) of the award of their first degree in geoscience or a cognate subject, who show significant early promise and are judged to have potential to be future leaders in their fields.  Up to two awards are made annually at the discretion of the incumbent President with a value of £250 each. The award form is available here.

Lyell, Murchison & Wollaston Medals

These are conferred to those who have made significant contributions to our understanding of geosciences. In order to nominate you must complete the appropriate form of those attached (note the President’s Award nomination requires the nominee’s recent CV to be included). The nominator (proposer) must be a Fellow and although preferable for the seconder to be a Fellow it is not essential.  (It is more important that there is sufficient knowledge of the candidate and their work to recommend them for a Society medal.)

Normally, the proposer and seconder must not be from the same institution as the nominee.  However, for nominations for the Lyell, Murchison, William Smith and Wollaston Funds, it is recognised that the work of the nominees may not be widely known, so the proposer may be at the same institution but the seconder should be from a different institution. (Similarly with the William Smith Medal and the Aberconway Medal the proposer must be from a different institution but the seconder can be from the same institution.) – Geological Society of London

GVCh – a new collaboration!

We are thrilled to announce a new collaboration with the Chilean Volcanological Group! The leaders of this newly-formed group share their vision below:

The Grupo de Volcanología de Chile (GVCh) is a special interest group of the Chilean Geological Society. GVCh formed recently in June 2020. The group aims to promote research on topics in volcanology and to aid the relationship between volcanologists and society in Chile. GVCh seeks to create links with international organizations conducting research on volcanolgoy, and invites members of VMSG to collaborate in various ways.

Read the full invite to collaboration here. If you would like to know further details, please contact the GVCh directly at Claudio Contreras & Catherine Huerta


IAVCEI – shout-out

Volcanology is not just a national but an international endeavour! Did you know that VMSG supports its global counterpart, IAVCEI (International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior), and the VMSG Chair acts as the UK National Representative for IAVCEI on the IUGG panel? We are keen to increase interactions between the VMSG community and IAVCEI, and are inviting our members to suggest ideas as to how we might do this. You can find out more about IAVCEI through its new website ( launched in February 2021. The website includes information on IAVCEI’s Early Careers Researchers network and IAVCEI newsletters, which are published quarterly.

IAVCEI also hosts several commissions and networks. IAVCEI commissions are special interest groups focussed on volcanic subdisciplines including volcanic geoheritage, cities and volcanoes, and volcanic clouds. No matter how small your volcanological niche, you might find your people here: This happy chappy below was shared by Dr. Sam Mitchell, from the Commission on Submarine Volcanism.

Smile if you’re a submarine-lava-submersible-sampling-platform!

Special Issue – We Are 50!

Now That’s What I Call (Volcanic) Music

Us volcanologists and petrologists love to rock out – but what other music are we into? Now That’s What I Call Volcanic Music is your guide to all the best rock music. Over the week of Monday 30th August – Friday 3rd September, you’ll have the chance to vote on your favourite igneous-inspired tunes. We’ll have four heats on Monday – Thursday, and the final round on Friday before we announce the winner. The link to the first heat on Monday is here; you can also find it and the following heats on the VMSG Twitter here. Get ready to vote! – Elliot Carter


Below is a look back over the last 50 newsletters: field trips, conferences, gatherings, and virtual events. A huge thanks to the people that have contributed both over the years and in our recent call-out over Twitter. You make the VMSG the wonderful group it is! – Ailsa Naismith

Call for Fieldtrips

We are keen to get the VMSG fieldtrip schedule back up and running, and are looking for people who may be willing to run both virtual and in-person field trips for the community. Ideally we are interested in both a virtual field workshop some time this autumn (perhaps including some of the exciting uses of drones), and a UK-based short residential trip some time in the spring or summer of 2022.

These will be run with the support of the VMSG committee, but you would play a central role in running the trip. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, and you have a firm idea of a trip you would like to offer, please get in touch with – Pete Rowley


The IAVCEI Tephra Hazard Modeling Commission’s working group on eruption source parameters is delighted to announce a new database to support plume model development and related studies of eruption dynamics.

The Independent Volcanic Eruption Source Parameter Archive (IVESPA),, includes eruption source parameters (e.g., erupted mass, duration, plume top height, SO2 height, total grain size distributions) and atmospheric conditions for 134 eruptive events since 1900. The dataset is restricted to modern eruptions to include only those with robust measurements of plume height that are independent of plume models or isopleths. The source parameters and uncertainties were derived from published literature and cross-checked by at least two members of the working group.

These efforts are coordinated by Thomas Aubry ( and Samantha Engwell (, with the British Geological Survey providing resources to create the database and ensure its initial maintenance. The online database will be updated at least annually – thus, feedback and suggestions of new entries to add to database are strongly encouraged. A full description of IVESPA can be found in an open-access article recently published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research:

We sincerely thank the members of the VMSG community who provided feedbacks on the development of IVESPA at the 2020 and 2021 assemblies! We hope you enjoy this product and look forward to including your contributions in the coming months and years. – Thomas Aubry & Sam Engwell


The Earth Surface Research Laboratory (ESRL) at Trinity College Dublin has launched as a national research facility. Researchers based on the island of Ireland can access the facility for free at the point of use through bi-annual open calls,  or at reduced rates where facility access is funded through existing grants, subsidised by Geological Survey Ireland. UK and international projects can access the facility at highly competitive rates when collaborating with an Ireland-based researcher. Equipment in the laboratory includes a state-of-the-art ultra-low detection limit Zetium WD-XRF, rapid throughput Nex CG ED-XRF, an Hg analyser and an elemental analyser, all hosted within clean suites with dedicated sample preparation facilities and technical support.

Find out more at For general enquiries, contact: – Michael Stock

Any Other Business?

Upcoming VMSG QGIS workshop

VMSG will be holding a free QGIS workshop (compatitble with both Windows and Mac) in November! The course will be aimed at introducing the basics of GIS and the QGIS software, eventually building participants up to more complex uses of the software. The workshop will be suitable for all abilities. Keep your eye on the VSMG media platforms for more information and call for sign-up coming soon.

VMSG PhD and ECR directory

The VMSG PhD and ECR directory is up and running and is waiting for you to fill it out! While it is a new concept, the purpose is to open up the community to all levels, facilitating networking and collaborations. So if you are a PhD or ECR, please fill it out! 🙂 Please note that if you are not a PhD or ECR that doesn’t mean you can’t use the directory. The PhDs and ECRs who have signed up have expressed whether they are interested in collaborations, networking and giving presentations to other institutions, so please make the most of this great resource. Follow the link here to see participants and sign up:

ESWN Professional Members’ Survey

The Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) professional development and member events committees are planning activities for 2021-22. To ensure these activities are aligned with the ESWN community’s interests, we invite you to participate in a brief survey:

The first part of the survey  collects demographics information as we would like to know more about the ESWN community, to ensure we are creating events suitable to the needs of those we serve, and as we have not carried out a demographics survey of our membership and potential attendees in recent years.

All information collected from this survey will remain confidential and will not be shared. There are options to self-describe and to decline to respond if you would prefer not to share your information with us. This survey should only take a few minutes [~5 min] of your time. Many thanks for your contributions. If you have any questions about the survey, please email us at

ASU Mailing List

The mailing list run by Arizona State University is a fantastic resource for hearing explosive news around the world – PhD and postdoc opportunities, jobs, conferences, workshops, and the GVP weekly reports that go so well with coffee on Saturday mornings. Instructions to join are in the following link:

VMSG Mailing List

Don’t forget to pass on our mailing list to others! Especially as we’re close to a new term, we may have a fresh batch of magmaticians who want to get involved. The link to join is here:


Thanks for reading, you’ve been fab. Remember to get in touch with the VMSG via the usual channels (Twitter, mailing list) and if you think a fellow volcanologist would benefit from joining the fold, get them involved!

VMSG Newsletter #49

No. 49: May 2021

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King


Welcome all to the start of summer! May has been spectacularly soggy, and sometimes it seems the clouds won’t shift. To add some sunshine, this newsletter’s theme is “solidarity”. Together we sift through various subjects that have affected our community over the last few months. We start with a statement in response to the Sewell Report, and share recent evidence on the lack of representation in the geosciences in UK. In addition, we consider the effects of recent cuts to overseas development assistance (ODA) funding. There is more solace in literature: you are cordially invited to submit to MinSoc and a special issue of Remote Sensing, or to share thoughts in a new ECR reading group. We have a taste of travel through a field report from our 2019 and 2021 winners of the Henry Emeleus award, and the promise of future discovery with a final call for VMSG busaries and awards. Finally, we invite our PhD students and ECRs to add their details to a directory so that we can find out more about your research and plan future events. Relax, kick off your shoes, and enjoy what promises to be a gorgeous June. – Ailsa Naismith

VMSG and the Sewell Report

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (“The Sewell Report”) was a government-commissioned report published in March 2021 that aimed to investigate institutional racism in the UK. (The original report can be found here.) Its publication caused major controversy: many felt it did not acknowledge the systemic and structural racism that has and continues to pervade many UK institutions. In response to the Report, the VMSG would like to make the following statements:

  • ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic): VMSG collects representation data (e.g. on conference attendees). We will continue collecting this data while maintaining confidentiality. Our commitment to confidentiality includes sensitivity to minority groups where individuals might be more easily identified.
  • Language of racism: VMSG pledges to continue addressing structural and systemic racism in the ways we discussed in 2020 (watch via YouTube).
  • Response to racism: VMSG affirms that following complaints of racism, our response will be firm regardless of the intentions of the perpetrator. We will continue to uphold anti-racist principles true to our institutional spirit.
  • Conversations about racism: VMSG will keep holding conversations that are uncomfortable – e.g. legacy of colonialism, white privilege.
  • Engagement and outreach: VMSG will continue to focus outreach efforts on all under-represented groups, regardless of racial or socioeconomic background.
  • Curriculum: In addition, VMSG will continue to promote both work that owns the impact of colonialism within the geosciences and work that actively helps to decolonise the geosciences.
  • Education: VMSG acknowledges inequalities in the education system that perpetuate racial inequalities in the geosciences [see Natasha Dowey’s article below]. Acknowledging that some groups have a harder time in the education system allows space for conversations on how to change this.
  • Further education: The VMSG committee is actively seeking ways to boost Black and other ethnic minority student numbers in the geosciences.
  • Mental health: VMSG understands this is a huge problem and are considering ways in which we can support mental health of Black and ethnic minority researchers.
  • Fieldwork: Reflective of how to be more equitable. Initiatives on how to do fieldwork risk assessments that considering racism, homophobia, ableism etc. are an essential part of this.

The VMSG continues to work to promote antiracism, but acknowledges that we have still not done enough and strive to do more. As ever, hear about updates via the Twittersphere: @vmsg_uk. – VMSG Committee

Lack of Diversity in UK Geosciences

Three members of our community (Dr. Natasha Dowey, Professor Jenni Barclay, and Dr. Rebecca Williams) have co-authored an article on the particular lack of representation of BAME students in UK geoscience. The article, published in Nature Geoscience, identifies geology, physical geography, and environmental science as poorly representing Black, Asian, and minority students in both undergraduate and postgraduate research. After analysing and reviewing the data, the authors call for action and make concrete recommendations that if implemented will materially improve diversity and equity in these subjects. We hope that this article will invigorate efforts to diversify UK geosciences and embolden other science disciplines to do similar work.

The lead author, Dr. Natasha Dowey, says:

“My hope is that this article increases recognition of the deep-rooted problems that prevent our subject from being an equitable environment for all. It may be short, but it reflects conversations and collaboration between students and staff, across the geoscience community. Moving forward it is crucial that we continue to work across traditional subject and sector boundaries, and along the pipeline, to implement meaningful change.”


Racial diversity among UK undergraduates and postgraduates is particularly low in geology, environmental science, and physical geography.

This message is eloquently reflected in the article:

“We must address personal and structural biases, and go beyond this to be actively anti-racist. The less diverse a field is, the more prevalent implicit biases become. We must act now, and have those difficult conversations, to create a modern geoscience research culture that reflects the diverse nature of the planet we study.”

Read the full article here. – Natasha Dowey & Ailsa Naismith

Cuts to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) funding

In March 2021, UKRI suddenly announced a £120 million shortfall in its overseas development assistance (ODA) funding for 2021-22. The impact of this out-of-the-blue decision has been devastating to many of our colleagues and friends both in the UK and overseas, who have spent much effort and many years on building partnerships that are now threatened. One of our community reflects on the fumble below:

“I fell in love with Central America as many people do, on my first trip there as a PhD student in late 1998. Early in the trip I got up at dawn to explore the market at Masaya in Nicaragua. It was an extraordinary experience. Meat hung from hooks, clothes were piled high on tables and vendors were chatting noisily to anyone who would listen. I often describe this part of the world to my students as an assault on the senses; chaotic, loud, and irresistible. As I emerged into bright sunshine at about 8 o’clock I bought a coffee and a slice of watermelon, sat on a nearby bench and watched the world unfold. The coffee was dark and sweet, and the watermelon was cold and fresh. It is amongst the happiest I have ever felt, high on life on the wings of youth.

Over twenty years later and I am still in love. My mantra may be more carpe somnum than carpe diem, but I still get a fix from adventure. What I now have, thanks to longevity, is strong bonds. I have worked with some of my friends in Guatemala for twenty years. They rely on me, and I feel like I am helping. I am equally conscious that I am utterly ineffective without them – it is a relationship where we are all comfortable in each other’s company and, critically, pulling in the same direction. I never laugh so hard, or feel so alive, than when in the field. Those shared memories build trust.

I study active volcanism, and I am blessed to do something I love. I work on both quite theoretical and more applied aspects of volcanoes. The applied bit means working at the interface of volcanic hazards and people. The communities around the volcanoes of Guatemala are vulnerable, poor and extraordinarily resilient and my Guatemalan colleagues work tirelessly, round the clock, to try to keep them safe. For years now, we’ve dreamt of working on a big project. Something that might really make a difference rather than scratching at the edges. Then, an opportunity arose, and group of friends with the shared aim of making a difference worked together for months, meeting regularly, honing ideas and dreaming of outcomes. To our joy, after a nervous wait, we heard the project had been funded. We started to plan, despite covid, and then, out of nowhere, learned the plug might be pulled.

I have run the full gamut of emotions after hearing the news that, as a result of cutting the overseas aid budget, the government has generated a huge shortfall in funding this year. Even projects like ours, that are already running, were to be either cancelled or ‘reprofiled’ (an Orwellian euphemism if ever there was one). First came shock at the stupid and thoughtless decision. Then incredulation. The cuts, in the context of the overall budget, are tiny. They felt directed, personal, and spiteful. Then, finally sadness and profound sorrow, of things maybe lost. All the ideas we had, the daydreams of sitting and talking to people, learning, sympathising, empathising, and listening, above all listening, to their stories.

Meeting, albeit virtually, with the team from Guatemala was excruciating. Our embarrassment, our shame at breaking their trust, pours out of us like a confession. We are dumbstruck and we have nothing to reassure them with. Of course, they are understanding. They are used to governments breaking their promises, changing things without warning or transparency, but they are surprised we’re in the same boat. Last month the business secretary said ‘I don’t think our international standing or partnerships have been impaired’. I can state, on behalf of my friends, that is categorically not the case.” – Matt Watson

See the original UKRI announcement here.

Shout-Outs on Twitter (Solidarity)

Through a Twitter thread, several members of the VMSG community expressed comments of gratitude for colleagues, friends, and collaborators who had shown solidarity to them throughout the last year. Here they are below:

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Literary Corner

We hear below from two editors that invite you to submit your work to their publications. Best wishes to our friends, and solidarity to colleagues at INGV as they monitor the ongoing activity at Mt. Etna.

Mineralogical Society

The editors of Mineralogical Magazine are pleased to consider papers from members of the VMSG. MinMag is one of two journals published by the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland in conjunction with Cambridge University Press. The VMSG is a Special Interest Group of the Mineralogical Society. The Society views solidarity with its SIGs as being of prime importance and all possible steps are taken to facilitate scientific activity by them.

As we move towards fully Open Access status, we encourage you use the Cambridge checking tool ( to see if you may be entitled to a ‘free’ OA paper under the terms of a ‘Read and Publish’ deal between your institute and ‘the Press’. 88 universities and other institutions in the UK are covered.

The journal has a strong, diverse and inclusive editorial board ready to deal with your minpet papers. These include editors from 16 countries, including: Roger Mitchell (Principal Editor, petrology/geochemistry), Ian Coulson, Katherina Pfaff, Leo Melluso, Aniket Chakrabarty, Jason Harvey, David Good, Eimear Deady, Ed Grew, and Mike Rumsey.

The average ‘time with reviewer’ is 17 days; manuscripts are published online within a week of acceptance; and the final published version appears online, on average, within six weeks of acceptance.

Check out our new collections, including all the Hallimond lectures available here. – Kevin Murphy

Remote Sensing: Special Issue

Dear colleagues and friends!

We would like to invite you to submit papers to the Special Issue, “Remote Observation of Volcanic Emissions and Their Impacts on the Atmosphere, Biosphere and Environment” for the journal Remote Sensing (impact factor 4.509). This Special Issue aims at presenting state-of-the-art and recent advancements in volcano remote sensing, as well as multidisciplinary volcano studies deriving from the exploitation of these remote sensing methodologies, with a special focus on volcanic emissions and dispersing/evolving plumes, and the impacts of volcanic pollutants on the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the environment. Please find more information at the following website:

The deadline for manuscript submissions is 31 March 2022. – Giuseppe Salerno, Pasquale Sellitto, Letizia Spampinato, Salvatore Giammanco, Chiara Giorio

ECR Volcanology Reading-Rendezvous


The ECR Volcanology Reading-Rendezvous is a newly-formed paper discussion group, created by six ECRs from a variety of research backgrounds and career stages. Our aim is to provide an accessible, inclusive, and diverse platform for discussion of novel topics in volcanology, which is open to absolutely anyone who identifies as an ECR working in the fields of physical volcanology, igneous geochemistry, petrology, volcano geophysics, and related subjects. From the 10th June onwards, we will be organizing a series of once-monthly virtual discussions, to be held on the second Thursday of the month. Discussions will be hosted on Zoom, during which attendees will focus on exploration and discussion of a new and/or keynote paper in volcanology. Paper choices are informed by the broad theme for that month, which will be one of:

(1) Pre-eruption triggers, mechanisms and warnings

(2) Intra-eruption processes

(3) Post-eruption impacts & responses

To ensure all attendees can plan to attend and engage with meetings in advance, we will announce the next month’s paper and discussion date at the end of each meeting.

Interested in joining us? To sign up to attend our discussions, sign up to our mailing list here. People can get in touch with the R-R via email ( or Twitter (@ECRVolcan_RR). The committee members are all on Twitter: Alice (@alicepaine03), Isabel (@izzifen), Anna (@anna_brookfield), Nick (@volcannick),  Hannah (@HannahMBuckland), and Thomas (@ThomasJAubry).

We hope to see you there! – Alice Paine

Student Bursary Report

Craig Magee – How does magma flow through sill-complexes? (2019)

In 2019, which seems an eternity ago, I was lucky enough to receive the Henry Emeleus Award from the VMSG to conduct fieldwork on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Guided by the excellent work of Holness & Humphreys (2003), the aim of the work was to map and sample sills within the Loch Scridain Sill-complex, which show local thickening potentially related to flow localisation, and establish how magma dynamics varied across these intrusions. Sill-complexes are interconnected networks of relatively thin sills that cover vast areas. A perplexing question is how does magma moves through multiple sills to expand sill-complexes without freezing? By identifying and mapping such flow pathways in Mull, I wanted to test whether flow localisation could insulate magma, allowing it to flow further and incrementally build sill-complexes. My selected method to achieve this aim was to use anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS), which provides quick and cheap measures of rock fabrics, to map crystal alignments created during magma flow (e.g., like throwing sticks in a stream).

With a field campaign planned, Dr. John MacDonald (University of Glasgow) offered to assist me in the field and Dr. William McCarthy (University of St Andrews) provided free use of the M3Ore Laboratory for sample analysis. A critical turning point in my planning was a fortuitous conversation with Dr. Janine Kavanagh at the University of Liverpool, who had worked on the very sills I planned to study with then-PhD researcher Simon Martin. Following an inspiring chat, Simon joined me in the field and shared his knowledge of the area and expertise in sheet emplacement. It was fantastic to see the project evolve from something I was doing, to a collaboration of minds and friends. Together we made quite a team and the outputs of our work far exceeded my original expectations.

Before the pandemic struck, we managed to process a number of the collected samples and have put together a report (with data) freely available through EarthArXiv (here). The remaining samples are in the pipeline for analysis and, once processed, will be added to the report. It is still early days in the work, but results are promising and there are tantalising signs that the AMS fabrics can be used to identify areas of flow localisation. Importantly, if confirmed, these results would mean we could use fabric analyses to locate flow localisation in sheet intrusions even if there is no other obvious evidence for such processes. Such findings would pave the way for an extensive campaign to map fabrics across entire sill-complexes to find how magma moves through them without freezing.

In the spirit of solidarity, I am entirely grateful to everyone who offered their help with this little project and to the VMSG for funding the work. I had the privilege of sharing fieldwork with Henry Emeleus on a VMSG workshop to Ardnamurchan in 2008, and the award in is honour is a fantastic way to continue his legacy. If you are interested in this work, please do get in touch ( – Craig Magee

John and Simon getting to grips with the contact zone of a dolerite sill above basalt lava. Note the local thickening of the sill, which may be indicative of flow localisation.

Update: We’ve actually now managed to prep and run the samples – now it’s a matter of finding time to piece everything together!

Awards And Bursaries

VMSG Awards and Student Bursaries

Final call for nominations for the 2021 VMSG awards! and student bursaries. Submission deadline is Tuesday 1st June 2021. The following are available:

  • Thermo-Fisher VMSG Award
  • Willy Aspinall Award

Eligibility requirements and application forms can be found by clicking through to the VMSG website: Thermo Fisher Award; Willy Aspinall Award. The VMSG particularly encourage nomination from under-represented groups. Please consider asking colleagues to nominate you! Applications by email only to the VMSG Awards Officer, Nick Gardiner (

This is also the final call for Student Bursaries. Up to £500 to support fieldwork or attendance of a conference (virtual or in-person). Eligibility requirements and application form available here: Student Bursaries. Must have presented at a VMSG conference before. As before, applications by email only to the VMSG Awards Officer, Nick Gardiner.

Steven Walker – Winner of Henry Emeleus Fieldwork Grant (2021)

Congratulations to Steven Walker (Edge Hill University), who was awarded £1000 from the above grant in March 2021. Steven will use the funds towards fieldwork on Mull focussing on volcanic stratigraphy and magma dynamics. We look forward to hearing about his results at a future VMSG meeting!

Congratulations to Steven Walker!

VMSG PhD and ECR Directory

VMSG are pround to unveil a new directory for PhD students and early career researchers! This document is ideal for sharing details and seeking other students and ECRs to connect. Find the document here.

Please note: only PhDs and ECRs are able to sign up with their details. However, we encourage all members to use this service to find collaborators and contacts.

Happy networking! – Claire Harnett & Emma Watts

Other Goodies

Conference dates

Upcoming dates for conferences include:

  • Goldschmidt (4 – 9 July 2021, virtual)
  • Cities on Volcanoes (June 2022, Heraklion, Greece)
  • IAVCEI (30 Jan – 2 Feb 2023, Rotorua, New Zealand)


The International Volcanology Seminar (IVS) series, started jointly by Dr. Josef Dufek (University of Oregon) and Dr. Ben Andrews (Smithsonian Institute), is still going strong. Seminars are given regularly and often feature ECRs. Join via the mailing list here.

And, in case you missed the live streaming of the IAVCEI workshop, “The 2021 Fagradalsfjall (Geldingadalir) eruption and its precursors”, it has been posted on the IAVCEI website in the Members Zone (here).


Feel like you’re about to explode? Let off some steam by contributing to our volcano-themed music playlist! Simply submit any music you’d like via Twitter (@vmsg_uk) or email (ELCARTER at, and we’ll add it to a playlist on the VMSG YouTube channel. There’s no time limit to submit. Guaranteed to rock your socks off!

VMSG Newsletter #48

Penny Wieser and Emily Mason hammering at Fissure 8

No. 48: February 2021

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley


Welcome and a very belated Happy New Year to all! The cold that swept the UK in mid-February reminds us that winter leaves with a sting in its tail. However, we’ve been warmed by the massive success of the virtual VMSG conference that took place on 6 – 8 January 2021. In this newsletter you’ll find a celebration of the twin triumphs of vVMSG’s scientific and social sessions, colourful figures that spotlight challenges and progress to-date on EDI in our society, and an atlas showing our global community. We owe an enormous thanks to the conference organizers, conveners, and presenters for bringing that community together for a truly brilliant event.

The new year also brings change to the VMSG committee team. We bid farewell to Mike Cassidy (ECR Rep & Social Media), George Cooper (Field Trip Secretary), Sam Engwell (EDI Rep) and Jess Pugsley (Student Rep) who have contributed much effort and many talents to the work VMSG does. They will be sadly missed by continuing members! New committee members ready to carry the torch are Elliot Carter (Social Media), Jazmin Scarlett (EDI Rep), Pete Rowley (Field Trip Secretary), Ailsa Naismith (Newsletter Editor – hi!), and Claire Harnett (ECR Rep). Jenni Barclay will be blazing new trails in the role of Outreach & Public Engagement Officer.

New committee members (L-R): Elliot Carter, Jazmin Scarlett, Pete Rowley, Ailsa Naismith, Claire Harnett

Other goodies in this newsletter include announcement of a new journal, and not one, but two, student bursary reports  – phew! Time to sit down and read with a nice cup of tea. – Ailsa Naismith

Words from our President

The annual winter conference is the flagship event of the VMSG and is traditionally when we get together in a convivial environment to present scientific findings and celebrate the outstanding contributions of colleagues. By summer 2020 it became apparent that the Covid-19 pandemic would not be going away as fast as we all had hoped, and the annual conference would have to be in a virtual format (vVMSG2021).

Our initial concerns re: the community suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’ and not wishing to start the new year in front of a screen were unfounded, and your huge response to the call for abstracts required vVMSG2021 to have two parallel conference sessions. This was a first for the VMSG and set an ambitious conference agenda, all co-ordinated from the disparate homes of VMSG Committee members (spanning from Aberdeen to Cornwall and many points in between).

vVMSG2021 had a record number of delegates and from more countries than ever before (see below). The scientific standard of the keynote and oral and poster presentations was exceptionally high and undiminished by the pandemic. Replacing the networking and friendly atmosphere of the ‘normal’ face-to-face meeting was always going to be a challenge but we hope the virtual field trips to spectacular volcanic landscapes together with daily yoga sessions, a movie night, and quiz provided relaxing environments to meet colleagues old and new. To those who participated in VVMSG2021, we thank you for your engagement. If you couldn’t join us then a recording of the Annual General Meeting and many of the presentations are available on the new VMSG YouTube channel.

While so many of us remain confined to our homes, the spectacular footage of on-going eruptions at Etna, Kilauea and Volcan Pacaya reminds us of the powerful forces of nature which shape VMSG science and its relevance to our society. We continue to think of ways that we can engage with the VMSG community and the wider public in these challenging times. If you have ideas of workshops or virtual events (academic or social), please do get in touch. – Sally Gibson

Virtual VMSG Annual Meeting (vVMSG), 6 – 8 January 2021

How did it go? In a nutshell: marvellously. We owe a big thanks to our Treasurer Sami Mikhail who chaired the vVMSG2021 Organising Committee and to the Geological Society of London for co-ordinating the registration and abstract submission, and for hosting the conference on Zoom. We are hugely grateful to ThermoFisher, ZEISS and Nu for sponsoring VVMSG2021 and for their active participation in the conference.

vVMSG was a truly international affair: there were 409 registrations for the conference, representing more than 120 institutions from over 20 countries. Of the 409, 309 came from the UK, 44 from the rest of Europe, 4 from Africa, 20 from North America, 2 from the Caribbean, 13 from South America, and 17 from Asia. While the large number of delegates caused a few initial technical difficulties (we soon learnt that Zoom Breakout Rooms have a limited capacity) this was soon resolved and we hope no one was left stranded in cyberspace!


Map of all countries participating in vVMSG2021

Scientific Program

vVMSG’s scientific program was choc-full of fascinating and enriching science, conducted across two parallel sessions held via Zoom. The conference hosted nine thematic sessions each headed by a dedicated keynote. With themes as diverse as the East African Rift System to Volcanic Histories, we were freshly awed by the ingenious and inspired science that fellow magma-lovers shared over the three days.

It’s easy to feel blue after the conference has passed, but it’s also needless. You can get your fix of volcano science any time now that vVMSG talks have been uploaded to VMSG’s Youtube channel. If talking rather than listening is what you miss, the VMSG Discord server remains open – join it here.

Social Program

Because a well-rounded volcanologist is a happy volcanologist, the vVMSG scientific program was attended by a number of social events. Each morning kicked (or rather, stretched) off with a yoga session with Celine Vidal. Lancaster University hosted a hot-headed quiz night on 8 January, and the night before saw explosions of laughter and plenty of ribbing with the awesome-awful movie ‘Apocalypse Pompeii’. Would the city be destroyed by the common volcanic hazard known as “heat surge”? Watch the full movie here to find out – and get your popcorn ready!

Virtual Field Trips

The pre-conference field trip, “Exploring scales of lava emplacement in Namibia, Skye and Mull”, took place on 7 January and was run by Jess Pugsley and John Howell of the University of Aberdeen. You can watch the whole field trip via YouTube here.


Congratulations to our vVMSG prize winners! Professor Ed Llewellin (Durham) was awarded the Thermo Fisher VMSG Award, given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to our current understanding of volcanic and magmatic processes. Ailsa Naismith (Bristol) won the Willy Aspinall Award for her 2019 paper on eruption frequency patterns at Volcán de Fuego. Dr Jamie Farquharson (Miami) was awarded the Zeiss Post-doctoral Keynote Award, and gave an invited keynote presentation for his winning abstract on assessing rainfall-induced volcanic hazard.

Student presentations were of outstanding quality at vVMSG. Matthew Varnam (Manchester) won the Bob Hunter Prize for the best oral presentation given by a student, while Adam Cotterill (UCL) was the winner of the Geoff Brown Prize for best student poster presentation. Kirsten Stephens (Penn State) achieved the Bob Hunter Runner-up Prize, and Elena Jones (Hull) received the Geoff Brown Runner-up Prize. All winning talks can be found on the vVMSG webpage.

vVMSG prize winners (L-R): (top row) Jamie Farquharson (Miami), Elena Jones (Hull), Matthew Varnham (Manchester), Ailsa Naismith (Bristol); (bottom row) Ed Llewellin (Durham), Kirsten Stephens (Penn State), Adam Cotterill (UCL)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: progress

The VMSG is committed to ensuring Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in all of our activities and since 2018 the Committee have made positive steps to address these issues. We are currently monitoring our progress using the EDI framework established by the UK Science Council and the Royal Academy of Engineers and details of this were preesented at the Annual General Meeting in January 2021. This shows that while we have made very good progress we can and should do more. A major EDI initiative of the VMSG Committee last year was to host a series of discussion panels, organised by Jenni Barclay and Mike Cassidy.

Third EDI panel: “All I want for Christmas is …”

On 18th December 2020, VMSG held the third of three panel events on how opportunity is split within our community. These events recognized historic biases and inequalities in the geosciences, and provided a space for people to share ideas on changes we can make to allow all our members to share their talents, regardless of background. In this final event, seasonally titled “All I want for Christmas is some action on diversity in Geoscience”, we heard from our President Sally Gibson on progress in VMSG in recent years. We also listened to Jo O’Leary, Head of EDI at UKRI, talk about aspirations towards a system where ‘everyone has the opportunity to flourish’. A recording of the panel event can be found here. A summary of the talk was presented at vVMSG; its recording can be found here.

Results from vVMSG itself!

The conference was able to give presentations to all those who asked for them. We’ve also seen above the effects of going virtual on including people from around the world. The bar graph below shows the breakdown of male vs. female presenters by presentation type, while the pie chart shows the breakdown of conference delegates by career stage. Cheeringly, 42% of the 409 were MSc, undergraduates, and concessions – very encouraging to see how many new and aspiring volcanologists attended.

Other EDI

Future advances in EDI include meeting with other special interest groups within the Mineralogical Society and Geological Society of London to discuss how we can make progress in both collecting EDI-related data and taking actions on the data. There will also be actions related to issues raised in vVMSG’s student and ECR forums about UKRI and COVID. Watch this space – or better, the Twittersphere: @vmsg_uk. – Jazmin Scarlett

Student Bursary Reports

This edition we hear two voices from opposite ends of the Earth: Iceland and Kīlauea.

Penny Wieser – Attendance of AGU 2020

I am very grateful for my VMSG bursary, allowing me to attend AGU2020 to present my PhD work on olivine-hosted melt inclusions in a special session, “Multi-disciplinary investigations of the 2018 Kīlauean eruption”. Despite the inevitable late night (as Hawai’i is 11 hours ahead of the UK), it was a really productive session. The work I was presenting uses the strong dependence of H2O and CO2 solubility on pressure to investigate the depths at which olivine crystals erupted in 2018 crystallized (through the analyses of these volatile species in melt inclusions trapped within these crystals). This work demonstrates that the dominant fissure in the 2018 eruption (Fissure 8) was supplied from 2 distinct reservoirs beneath Kīlauea’s summit (at ~1-2 km depth, and 3-5 km depth). Interestingly, in work published so far, the geophysical community have emphasized the importance of the upper reservoir in terms of dominating geodetic signals during the eruption. Thus, the scheduled live-chat provided a really interesting opportunity for me to ask questions to geophysicists about whether they also saw signals indicating the involvement of a deeper source. It also started some lively discussion about the exact depth of the magma transport path between Kilauea’s summit and the eruption site >30 km downrift. Overall, it provided a great opportunity to get people working on different data streams (geodetics, seismics, hazard perception, gas signals, petrology) to discuss their findings, and to network amongst each other. AGU also provided a way for me to advertise my paper on this topic, which was accepted in G3 a week before. By posting the accepted manuscript on EarthArxiv, ~200 people downloaded it in the 2 weeks of AGU.

AGU2020 was also the first time I was involved in convening a session (the IAVCEI “Dynamics of Volcanic Plumbing Systems” session). As well as providing good networking opportunities with the  other convenors and participants in our session, this experience made me appreciate how much work it is to convene a session, particularly at a virtual conference where there is constant fear of technological failure! In addition to the live chat scheduled by AGU, Deepak Garg (my fellow convenor) and I also scheduled a poster walk, where people could give a short 1-2 minute flash talk to advertise their poster. We got a lot of good feedback from ECRs, who were pleased to have an opportunity to direct people towards their poster, which made it worth all the stress (AGU had actually disabled my account for some reason in the 24 hours leading up to our poster walk!).

I also used the bursary to attend a course run by the geochemical society “ Geochemical Society Fall Workshop: Thermodynamic Modeling of Magmatic Processes with alphaMELTS 2” in the weeks leading up to AGU (this workshop was originally scheduled to be in person at Goldschmidt 2020, but was delayed and moved to a virtual format due to COVID). This provided an introduction to the new Matlab and Python tools developed by Paula Antoshechkina, which are a game changer in terms of running MELTS on a windows PC (and doing iterative calculations). The skills I learn in this workshop will be really important to write up my final PhD paper on more evolved samples from the 2018 eruption. – Penny Wieser

Penny Wieser and Emily Mason hammering at Fissure 8


Penny Wieser and Emily Mason hammering for samples at Fissure 8 during the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea

Gregor Hahn – Fieldwork in Askja, Iceland (2019)

As part of my PhD research on flow direction indicators in high-grade rheomorphic ignimbrite I am investigating the upper surface folding in high-grade tuffs. At several localities in my main field area on Pantelleria, Italy, the upper vitrophyre exposes spectacularly developed folds that vary in size and complexity with the fold hinges being aligned subparallel to the other shear direction indicators (elongation lineations). Key information required for understanding the initial folding stages, however, are missing or inaccessible and a different rheomorphic deposit is needed, where such early folds have been preserved.

Therefore, I was keen on investigating the surface folding in the 1875 eruption at Askja, Iceland, the only place to our knowledge where such structures are well exposed and rather easily accessible. As rental costs for a 4WD in Iceland exceeded my funding, my field assistant Dr David Finn and I went to Askja via car sharing and public transport which was incredibly simple and unproblematic. Besides documenting the early folding stages with photographs and structural measurements, we were able to generate a digital elevation model of the caldera wall to investigate the eruption related tilting.

The rather unpredictable and constantly changing weather conditions that we experienced at Askja are well summarised by the English explorer Edward Delmar Morgan, who noted during his expedition to Askja in August 1881, less than 6 years after the devastating 1875 eruption, “Our temperature observations varied from 20°C in the sun to -5°C at night and beside exceptions of severe wind (>100 km/h wind gusts), thick fog, hail and snow the weather was magnificent.”

I am very grateful to the VMSG Travel Bursary Award for providing me with funds to make this fieldwork possible. The award greatly extended the timeframe that was needed to undertake the detailed mapping and descriptions. – Gregor Hahn

Gregor doing fieldwork in Askja


Gregor Hahn 4th year postgraduate reseacher  at Leicester – photo taken on N side of Lake Öskjuvatn

Other Goodies

Launch of ESCubed journal and special issues

You may have heard through the grapevine about a journal launch. It’s true! ESCubed: Earth Science, Systems and Society is a new not-for-profit journal by the Geological Society of London aiming to publish topical research across the breadth of geosciences. Its mission statement is crystal clear: “encouraging inclusivity and diversity in publishing, engaging directly with early career researchers, embodying principles of openness and transparency in science, and presenting a forward-looking perspective on geoscience and related disciplines”. And can’t we all get behind that.

Explore the journal through its tantalising new website here. There are three special issues currently welcoming abstract and manuscript submission: Hazards and Society (here), Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (here), and Earth Sciences and the Race to Net Zero (here). Happy reading and writing!

Upcoming Events

EGU General Assembly – online (19th – 30th April 2021)
Cities on Volcanoes 11 – Crete (14th -18th June, 2021)
Goldschmidt 2021 – Lyon (4th-9th July 2021)
AGU – New Orleans (13th – 17th Dec 2021)
IAVCEI 2022 – New Zealand (20 – 24th Jan, 2022)


For those who made it through to the end, here’s an irrestible meme. Have fun with it!

VMSG Newsletter #47

Picture of Henry Eves in his Birsay field area

No. 47: December 2020

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” (Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886)


In the hurly burly of semester my inbox husbandry can leave a lot to be desired. It currently bears the footprint of the comings and goings of your friendly VMSG Committee as they have put together: a virtual conference, a workshop and a virtual fieldtrip, and updated and breathed further life into a robust strategy for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. All while taking it in turns to attend meetings, review applications, lobby other organisations and generally provide support to one another. Phew!

One of the end results is going to be a really rather splendid Virtual Annual meeting (afternoons 6th- 9th January  2021: see below) which at the time of writing more than 260 of our community have signed up to attend –  warm-up Yoga and all. Its our hope that this will be inclusive and welcoming but most of all a much needed vaccination with exciting science to see us through the first few months of 2021 and into a new beyond!

This is my last Newsletter as Editor – it has been a pleasure rounding up all the great things the members of the Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group have been up to, I’m moving on to the new VMSG Outreach role – lots of luck and inspired sentences to my successor. (Jenni)

A note from our (democratically-appointed) President

The VMSG Committee is sad to say goodbye to Mike Cassidy (University of Oxford), George Cooper (University of Cardiff), Sam Engwell (BGS) and Jessica Pugsley (University of Aberdeen) who have been such great colleagues to work with. Over the last few years, all have made important contributions to the work that we do, much of which goes on behind the scenes.

In addition to sending out regular #VMSG tweets on social media, Mike has played a major role in organising the Addressing Inequalities discussion panel sessions. He has also recently helped establish the VMSG ECR lecture award, which this year will be sponsored by ZEISS. George, in his role as field trip secretary helped organise the Arran fieldtrip and has put the wheels in motion for several other trips that VMSG will run in post-Covid pandemic times. Sam has been instrumental in both compiling and analysing EDI datasets from the past few years of VMSG events, and also the publication of these findings in our first Equality, Inclusivity & Diversity report. Jess has been the VMSG Student Rep for the last two years and, in addition to providing vital student feedback to the committee, has been responsible for collating info on new PhD studentships.

Mike, George, Sam and Jess will all be missed, especially at what have now become regular virtual VMSG Committee coffee meetings. Lastly I’d like to thank everyone on the committee for giving up so much of their time in this challenging year. The virtual VMSG meeting in January 2021 looks set to be a great opportunity for sharing science, attending virtual fieldtrips, yoga, quizzes and even a movie night. What a great start to 2021! (Sally)

Virtual VMSG Annual Meeting (vVMSG) 6th-8th January 2021

Traditionally the VMSG community convenes in a site of magmatological magnificence in the UK for a 2.5 day meeting shortly after the New Year. This year we are taking the science online, and adding a sprinkle of the sense of fun, community and connection this event normally brings. It will run each day from 13:00-17:00 with additional workshops.

Registration is still open here until the 5th of January with inclusion-encouraging rates!

Scientific Program

Some 132 abstracts were submitted, and we have divided them into nine thematic sessions with pre-recorded talks to watch, live Q&A and flash-talks. We will have two parallel sessions running at any one time with dedicated keynotes.

In addition, you can expect exhilarating cross-session talks from our Willy Aspinall Award Winner Ailsa Naismith, VMSG-ThermoFisher Awardee Ed Llewellin and Zeiss Early Career Keynote Jamie Farquharson.

The full program will be available in the very near future. Watch @VMSG_UK for updates.

Thematic Sessions

Reservoir and Emplacement Processes (Keynote: Faye Walker, University of Aberdeen)

Volcanic Histories (Keynote: Michal Cameo-Harry, University of the West Indies)

Volcanoes: Media, Communication and Society (Keynote: Carina Fearnley, University College London)

Magmatic Processes (Keynote: Chiara Petrone, Natural History Museum)

Volatiles from the mantle to the atmosphere (Keynote: Peter Barry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)

East African Rift System (Keynote: Karin Fontijn, Universite Libre de Bruxelles)

Geophysics and Monitoring (Keynote: Jess Johnson, University of East Anglia)

Eruptive Processes (Keynote: Jackie Kendrick, University of Edinburgh)

Volcano-magmatism and the environment (Keynote: Tom Gernon, University of Southampton)

Social Program

Every day there will be the chance to join in with some pre-session yoga with our own fully-qualified Volcano-Yogi Master Celine Vidal (University of Cambridge).  There will also be two evening social events –  a Quiz and an Interactive Volcano Movie Night. The Quiz will be hosted by Hugh Tuffen and his volcanological posse from the University of Lancaster.

vVMSG and the Virtual Field Trips

We aren’t letting a global pandemic get in the way of a conference field trip.

We’ll start with a pre-conference workshop entitled “An introduction to creating virtual field trips – examples from the Devonian lavas of Scotland”. This will run 8.30-12 on the 6th January. Register for free here.

The conference field trip “Exploring scales of lava emplacement in Namibia, Skye and Mull” will run 9-12 on the 7th January. Register for free here.

This workshop is being run by Jess Pugsley and John Howell of the University of Aberdeen.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: progress

We have just hosted the third and final panel in our series of discussions about ways in which we can more equally distribute opportunities to engage, contribute and thrive within VMSG. During this panel we heard from our own President Sally Gibson, about measures we have taken in recent years, and from Jo O’Leary the Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at UKRI. As well as an opportunity for attendees to provide their views on priorities among the various actions arising from the earlier panels, we were also able to ask questions of both Sally and Jo, and to hear from Sam Engwell about the ongoing work on EDI at VMSG. A full report and YouTube recording of this Panel will emerge in the New Year.

You can read the reports on Panels 1 and 2, and find links to the two earlier panels here. We are also presenting a summary of this work at vVMSG.

Student Bursary Reports

Henry Eves – Fieldwork in Birsay, Orkney

By receiving the VMSG travel Bursary for fieldwork, I have been able to undertake fieldwork on Orkney (Scotland). As part of my PhD project, I have been investigating the effect of magma evolution on dyke emplacement using the laterally propagating segmented dykes at Birsay Orkney (Healy et al., 2018) as a case study, along with a comparison to other dykes within the Camptonite-Monchiquite suite. I have been primarily investigating this from a geochemical and petrological perspective, focusing on interpreting the temperature-pressure and volatile conditions of crystallization relative to emplacement and modelling the rheological evolution. However, the samples that I have been working on were initially collected for a different project and are inadequate for assessing the distribution of internal textural features within the dyke. The primary aim of this fieldwork was to collect targeted sample transects, and field notes of the laterally propagating segmented dykes at Birsay Orkney (Healy et al., 2018) along with other non-segmented dykes within the suite.

Picture of Henry Eves in his Birsay field area

I carried out this fieldwork from the 16th to the 21st of September travelling up late on the 15th. Initially, for this fieldwork, I went around the outcrops from Birsay bay to the Brough of Birsay, and round to Whitaloo point to make a general assessment of the outcrops to identify optimal locations for sampling & descriptions. Following this systematically sampled 2 transects across one of the 1m wide segments of the dyke at 59.139305N 3.304090E and 2 transects each from 2 different segments from the <30cm dyke at 59.136166 N, -3.320857 E, along with sampling the western sections where cm-scale phenocrysts are preserved.  South of Birsay I investigated the coastline towards the Bay of Skaill with the aim of describing and sampling dykes from the suite which do not share the characteristic morphology or lateral emplacement of the dykes at Birsay, of which I systematically sampled from two dykes at Northdyke and Marwick Bay.

Overall, from this fieldwork, I have successfully collected the dyke transects essential for assessing the distribution of internal textural features within the dyke. Going forwards I intend to process and analyze these samples from the transects on the SEM-BSE-EDS, which I will use to assess the homogeneity and consistency of textural features such as shape preferred orientation and ocelli/vesicle distribution. This is important to constrain the mixed volatile abundance and exsolution along with flow conditions during formation. I am very grateful to VMSG for enabling me to carry out this essential fieldwork for my PhD research project.

VMSG Newsletter #46

No. 46: July 2020
“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great” (Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527)


Resilience. Something often talked about in communities impacted by volcanic activity. An elusive diamond to be found that enables one to make like Chumbawamba and ‘get up again’ when there are challenges in life. As we are all learning with COVID19, the same challenge is experienced differently according to the prevailing circumstances into which that challenge is set. For example, lockdown is not the same for those of us in a solitary warm booklined study with a high speed internet connection as it is to those with an angry school-deprived child crawling onto knees and demanding attention. In the same way, the launch and execution of a research career is not always the same despite the apparent presentation of the same opportunities. These are silently shaped by prevailing attitudes and the circumstances of that individual. To be successful, some have to be just that little bit more resilient than others. We need to change that and work more explicitly towards not only providing opportunity but towards removing barriers to inclusion and diversity in our community.

In that spirit we bring a Newsletter focussed on Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) and how we are using this closed down world to take positive steps to forming a community that does better with EDI. There is ample evidence to suggest that a more equal, diverse and inclusive community is more creative, and better at solving problems.

Finally for those enjoying skipping into the fields of freedom in Scotland, we have another field excursion to savour, and for those currently more basaltically-challenged in England our Newsletter includes an introduction to the wonderful faux-volcanic world of slag.

Equality and Diversity Survey

Contributed by Sam Engwell, Sally Gibson & Janine Kavanagh

In the last VMSG Newsletter, we presented equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) information gathered from the recent annual winter meeting in Plymouth (January 2020). This data forms part of a larger study that looks at EDI within the VMSG community and at recent VMSG annual meetings. Here, we provide a short overview of the EDI findings together with some of the resultant recommendations for future VMSG meetings. We will publish the results of the full EDI Report and VMSG Survey soon.

The 2020 VMSG Annual Survey was the first time we have asked our members to tell us about themselves, their careers, their experiences and their thoughts on a wide range of VMSG activities. The 110 respondents were asked how much they thought the VMSG were doing in terms of promoting equality and diversity in the community. There were 95 responses to this question, and 74% thought the promotion was “About right”, 14% thought “Too little” was being done and 5% selected both “Too little” and “About right” (Figure 1).  

Figure 1. Percentages of response to the question “How much do you think VMSG is doing in terms of promoting equality & diversity in the community?” (95 responses)

We were able to do additional analyses to look at the responses according to other factors such as the career stage of the respondent (Figure 2). From these responses, proportionally more early career stage individuals (<10 years since PhD), undergraduates, Masters students, PhD students and Postdoctoral researchers thought that “Too little” was being done to promote diversity and equality. More of the advanced and mid academic career individuals responded with “Don’t know/No idea/Not sure”, and only permanent academic staff and early academic career individuals thought “Too much” was being done. This additional analysis demonstrates the importance of considering the responses not only as a bulk dataset but also to separately look at the views of minority sub-groups, whose thoughts may otherwise become obscured by those of the majority.

Figure 2. Percentages of response per ‘Career Stage’ to the question “How much do you think VMSG is doing in terms of promoting equality & diversity in the community?” (95 responses)

To assess EDI at VMSG annual winter meetings, the committee gathered and analysed available attendance data for the past six years of meetings (Figure 3). This represents the time frame for which we have data and allowed us to assess trends in attendance, oral presentations and keynote speakers over this time. The information was not specifically acquired for EDI analysis and, due to data availability, we have only been able to focus on gender. The analysis shows that the proportion of female oral presenters has varied over the 6-year period with an average of 37%. This is in comparison to the proportion of female attendees which has averaged at 47%. There is, however, only very limited data to show how these values relate to proportions of requested oral presentations but we note that in 2018 and 2019 there were fewer requests from female attendees for oral presenters. These trends can be seen to directly impact the distribution of presentations, particularly in 2019. Gathering such information is important because it allows both the committee and community to identify areas where diversity is lacking, but more information is required to fully capture and understand factors that affect trends through time.

Figure 3. Percentages of attendees and oral presenters at VMSG annual meetings since 2015. Data for the number of requests for male/female attendees is only available for VMSG 2018 and 2019.

Our analysis of data for the EDI report highlights the large gaps in the available data, for example, on the representation of BAME and LGBTQ+ communities. In the future, we endeavour, through working with local conference organising committees, to collate more diverse information and so gain a greater understanding of the VMSG community. We hope that through the collection of such data, and the recommendations provided in the report, the VMSG committee and community as a whole can work together to make meetings increasingly diverse, equal and inclusive.

Making real changes in equality, diversity and inclusivity requires more than data collection and analysis. In order to effect change, we have used the EDI analysis to update our ‘Guidelines for VMSG meetings’. As many VMSG members will be aware, we have also recently introduced a Code of Conduct policy for our meetings and field trips.

And last but not least, a new initiative by the VMSG Committee has been to appoint Prof Jenni Barclay as our dedicated Public Engagement and Outreach Officer. As demonstrated by recent well-attended public lectures in Dundee (Sir Prof Steve Sparks & Prof Rosaly Lopes) and Plymouth (Prof Iain Stewart) the study of volcanoes and magmas on Earth and other planets offers lots of potential to engage with under-represented groups. Jenni will actively work alongside the VMSG community to develop new inclusive outreach events, and we really welcome your ideas and participation in these activities.

VMSG Response to Black Lives Matter

At the end of this Newsletter, you will see the ‘Call for a Robust Anti-Racist Action Plan from all Professional Geoscience Societies and Organisations’ that has now been signed by over 24,000 individuals. This was originated in the USA but is well worth a read. There is a link here too, to sign the associated petition.

Drawing on this Action Plan (and noting our own lamentable diversity) we have been determined to take action.

As our contribution to #BlackLivesMatters we will convene a series of web-based discussion panels. These will acknowledge:

(i) The historical construction of inequalities in our research field globally (Origins)

(ii) Learn about the barriers to inclusion (The problem today)

(iii) Co-create a manifesto for tangible actions for VMSG moving forwards (The Future).

With these discussion panels we need to ‘do work’ to understand how we are part of the problem, and consider how VMSG can be part of the solution. Where we ask for contributions from community members from ethnic minorities in the UK or colleagues from overseas, we will acknowledge and amplify that effort. These three discussion panels will each last around 90 minutes.

The first of these will be on Monday the 20th of July.  Entry is via registration but its easy to do and you can sign up here.

  • Discussion Panel 1: 20th July 2020 2pm

Origins: understanding the impacts of historical inequalities in research undertaken by the Volcanic & Magmatic Studies Group community.

Our five invited panellists (*) will explore the historical construction of inequalities in accessing research, the benefits gained from resources overseas (volcanological, mineralogical, petrological and geochemical) and how we might avoid ‘parachute’(**) science in the wake of these privileges. After introductory plenaries from our panel (~1 hour) we will use the virtual format to gather discussion topics and questions from all participants and together consider how future practice in research might improve benefits for vulnerable communities and scientists in the countries where we work.

(*)Panellists: Jazmin Scarlett, University of Newcastle; Elisa Sevilla, Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Kathryn Goodenough, British Geological Survey; Matthieu Kervyn, Vrije Universitiet, Brussels; Richie Robertson, University of the West Indies.

(**) parachute science: where we do research or fieldwork without involvement or acknowledgement of local scientific or non-scientific expertise. See: for an example in Conservation.

The remaining two panels will convene later in August and September.

Challenges and Solutions for Autism in Academic Geosciences

Contributed by Nicola Taylor

Like many geosciences PhD students, it was the fantastic experiences that I had as an undergraduate, particularly those that involved fieldwork, that provided inspiration for me to pursue a career in research. However, gaining these experiences required the negotiation of some of the barriers that academia can present to the inclusion and success of individuals with disabilities, including those who, like me, are autistic.

At the moment, disabled individuals are underrepresented within academia. But diverse research is better research, diverse research teams produce more, and more highly cited, research papers, and we should strive for an inclusive research culture where thinking differently is promoted, and where the enjoyment that research brings can be shared with as many people as possible. So here are three challenges that academia can present to the success of autistic individuals, and simple solutions to help make the future more inclusive.

A comparison of disclosure of disability between the working-age population and different academic stages between 2003 and 2017. Data are from HESA (

1. A core feature of autism is difficulty with social interactions. It can seem like everyone is talking a different language, which takes time to “tune in to” and understand, and it might also be difficult to communicate verbally with others. Being clear, precise and literal, and allowing time to respond can make a huge difference. Group discussions can be made far easier when a chairperson gives everyone the opportunity to contribute (even if they need more time to do so, or to communicate in a different way) and periodically summarises discussions to ensure a collective understanding.

2. Integrating with peers. As a researcher, relationships with colleagues are important for both social and academic purposes – and can be difficult for autistic individuals who are likely to be excluded by their peers. This rejection often stems from a lack of awareness, necessitating disability awareness training. Peer integration can also be promoted by allocating groups, so no one gets (unintentionally) excluded, and by having some structure to social (or other) events, making them easier to join in with.

3. Busy environments. Around 95% of autistic individuals have sensory differences; this can make every sound and every voice amplified, and background noise impossible to ignore. Light, smell, touch and taste can also all be distracting, if not overwhelming. These sensitivities can make conference environments, travel hubs and busy teaching laboratories overwhelming, and impossible to concentrate in. COVID-19, has, at least temporarily, had a revolutionary effect on conferences, and the alternative online events are more accessible to many people who struggle within busy environments. For in-person events, access to additional rooms (allow for discussion outside the busiest areas, and an area to unwind), good signage (helps with navigating unfamiliar locations) and extending the length of poster sessions (reducing crowding) can be particularly helpful.

As part of the Equality and Diversity special issue of Advances in Geosciences, my supervisor (Dr Jess Johnson) and I contributed an article about autism within academia that expands on the ideas here – available at for those who want to read more!

For the love of slag!

Contributed by Clive Boulter

It is a little-known fact that we have a National Slag Collection!  Much better than visiting an archive is getting out in the field to study slag.  If you are fortunate enough to have iron slag tips nearby you may well have a wonderful volcanological educational resource to hand and maybe for research as well?  Around twenty million tons of extracted Cumbrian iron ore has littered the coast with fantastic volcanological experiences from just into Lancashire to beyond Workington.  Ropy pahoehoe flow fields, lava stalactites, spinifex textures, magma fragmentation, vesiculation patterns, and much more, can be studied in these locations.  Though Hawaii might seem more exotic, and have a magnetic attraction, field trips still use the Lake District but how many will have included a visit to a slag tip?  This contribution shows what they have missed.

Lava stalactites on the roof of a cavity in a tipped pudding, Workington.

Specially constructed railway wagons conveyed the slag from iron and steel works to tips.  The tipped contents of the wagons are variously referred to as skulls or puddings and many remained intact after dumping.  Because of primitive design, in the early days, it paid to deliver the slag to the dump either totally solid or with very little liquid but there are later examples where the tipped material was totally fluid such as at Askam.  The seaward end of Askam Pier is covered in thin (~10 cm) ropy pahoehoe flows with not much sign of solidification before tipping.  Early tipping at many locations left essentially intact puddings with variable volumes of cavities.  Liquid from the residual cavities produced dribbles of magma and some have lava stalactites on their roofs.  A range of cooling contraction granulation patterns can be seen in a spectrum of stages of disintegration leading to clear examples of reverse-grading grain-flow sorting in the tips just like scoria cones.

Twisted ropy pahoehoe as part of a pahoehoe flow field, Askam Pier.

Thin lava flows at Workington. The white upper part of each flow has pahoehoe structure [scale 10.5×16.5 cm]

Slag tips in Cumbria provide a good opportunity for geologists to examine spinifex texture without the need to travel to distant places like South Africa and Western Australia.  Also the mineralogy in the slag is fresh unlike the Archaean examples.  Bladed/oriented olivine crystals (max. 20 cm long seen in Cumbria) and randomly oriented spinifex are commonly found on the tips.  Being an Archaean geologist it was finding spinifex textured slag on the beach at Hest Bank that got me into searching out its source.  It is similar to the Raventhorpe slag in Western Australia that played a key role in our understanding of the nature of komatiite lava flows back in the late 1960s.

Radial fractures in a pudding at Workington mimicking a cracked open Teide’s Egg.

A block of spinifex textured slag with bladed and randomly oriented olivine together with vesiculated slag (Workington).

An excursion guide to the Workington localities is in the first issue of the Cumberland Geologist, 2020, pp. 59-62.  An account of the slag at Workington, Carnforth, is in the 2018 Proceedings of the Westmorland Geological Society pp. 45-49.

Carboniferous volcano exposed at Elie, Fife, Scotland

Contributed by Richard Batchelor

Around 330 million years ago, Scotland lay near the Equator. River sands, estuarine muds and marine lime were deposited in large deltaic areas forming sandstone, shale and limestone. Coal formed from the decay of tropical forests. Later violent volcanic activity ca. 295 million years ago punched through these rocks which had also been folded by crustal compression. Erosion has since revealed the underground volcanic “plumbing”.

On the wave cut platform by Elie harbour, concentrically-dipping layers of tuff form a dark coloured “lunar” landscape. Here we are inside a volcanic neck which was collapsing inwards on itself. Each layer of ash represents a volcanic eruption, showing that there were multiple eruptions. The tuff contains many blocks of basalt from previous eruptions, as well as calcite veins formed from fluids intruding the tuff while it was cooling.

Author walking across the tuff wave-cut platform. A gentle curvature to the left in the tuffs can be picked out by the basalt blocks.

A Call for a Robust Anti-Racist Action Plan from All Professional Geoscience Societies and Organizations

Below we reproduce in its entirety the Action Plan created by a group of geoscientists led by the Cultural Task Force of the Geological Society of America.

The petition can be found here.

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Y. Davis

What does it mean for a professional society or organization to be anti-racist and equitable to all members? For a start, they will continually ask AND answer difficult but important questions: Who benefits from the institution’s status quo? Who is left out? Who continues to hold power? Who feels safe, who does not feel safe, and why? Who do we want to attract and retain in our societies and organizations? For those that want to strive toward anti-racism and equity, we demand the enactment of the following action plan, including the development of workgroups and timelines for implementation:

  1.  Post anti-racism statements publicly and accessibly, and incorporate anti-racism into codes of ethics. As an example, all organizations and societies should post anti-racism statements on public-facing websites.
  2. All members and all levels of leadership, in particular, should actively work to understand the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized groups including how racism and discrimination have impacted their ability to succeed and feel belonged in the geosciences and other science disciplines. Societies should invest in hiring Black, Indigenous, and Latinx experts on issues related to minoritized groups (e.g. Black anti-racism experts, sexual harassment and anti-bias experts, bystander intervention trainers) to offer ongoing training to educate leaders and members on the identification and removal of structural and implicit biases within the geosciences.
  3. Identify ways each society and organization has previously failed Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups both structurally and individually. Consider the ways they have failed in protecting, supporting, mentoring, and retaining members of these groups to correctly identify how to make progress with specific actions. In addition to the national organizations, this is especially salient in local and regional chapters of societies, where organizations can leverage and learn from the diverse experiences of members in their local chapters. Through listening to these local communities, local and regional chapters may serve Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups in ways that are relevant to their needs.
  4. Interrogate written policies and procedures to identify bias, then revise and redesign policies and evaluation criteria to be anti-discriminatory. For example, procedures for becoming a GSA or AGU Fellow are biased against anyone who does not know an existing Fellow. Lengthy nomination procedures also put an undue burden on minoritized people who generally have fewer connections within the larger primarily white community.
  5. Question unspoken rules. Racism and other forms of discrimination can manifest in unspoken “rules” as well. These rules often dictate how members are expected to behave, what is considered professional attire and hair, and what passes for appropriate language and diction. Societies should reflect on how these rules negatively impact Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups.
  6. Acknowledge and address the impacts of historical and ongoing exploitation in the geosciences. The colonialist project of exploration and exploitation has negatively impacted – including death and loss of land – Indigenous people in North America and all over the world. Geologic exploration has also been used to take natural resources (e.g., rare rock, mineral, and fossil samples) to populate US museums and private collections, instead of respecting the autonomous rights of indigenous communities and nations to their natural resources. Furthermore, modern-day geology is pervaded by a research model, which extracts geological knowledge from remote locations with little to no respect for, engagement with, or participation by Indigenous communities. This research model is racist and exploitative and limits the scope of science done to a narrow band of questions solely dictated by the white majority. We must affirm that achieving a robust representation of Indigenous communities in our research community will improve our science and must take action to ensure this.
  7. Acknowledge environmental injustice in geoscience, including the disproportionate lack of funding for environment-focused work compared to hydrocarbon (petroleum, gas, and coal) and mineral mining. Geoscience is intimately tied to fossil fuels, mining, environmental contamination, atmospheric pollution, water quality, natural hazards, parks and tourism, and climate change. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups are disproportionately impacted by limited access to these resources, and the negative impacts of each of these. In addition, although these sectors have helped to attract Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups into geosciences, societies should recognize, acknowledge and work to resolve the fact that Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups are often the first to leave these industries during downturns. This means minoritized communities do not always have people within industries to advocate for and sponsor them.
  8. Acknowledge the inequities inherent to fieldwork while affirming that cutting-edge geoscience happens in many different spaces. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx People and other minoritized groups are not safe in the field – because of traditions and systemic discrimination and racism in place in our discipline, country, and world. A glaring example is that Black geoscientists are not safe to engage in fieldwork everywhere that white and other privileged geoscientists are able to. Whereas a white geologist with a rock hammer will be seen as “safe”, a Black geologist may be seen as a threat. Holding “suspicious” objects have been used as a defense to call the police on Black People in recent history and it has led to the death of unarmed Black individuals, purely because of racial profiling, discrimination, and unjustified fear of Black People. Fieldwork requirements for degree attainment also inherently block many disabled people, poor people, and women from engaging in geoscience work due to limited accessibility, harassment, and expense. Societies can lead by disseminating best practices to make all field programs safe for and accessible to everyone. They should also encourage the reevaluation of training requirements for rising geoscientists. Indeed, cutting-edge geoscience happens not only in the field but in laboratories, on computers, and in classrooms.
  9. Address issues of workplace culture that are active threats to safety, wellbeing, and careers, and acknowledge, address, and promote the safety and success of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized geoscientists and students who have been historically marginalized in education and the workplace. Professional organizations can bring their power to bear on universities, colleges, and other academic spaces to enact change. By creating no-tolerance policies, societies and organizations are holding academics accountable for their actions and inactions.
  10. Geoscience societies and organizations must actively advocate and create accountability for income parity for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized geoscientists, especially women, trans, genderqueer, and disabled geoscientists of color.
  11. Actively diversify nominations and awards committees who in turn work to nominate diverse Board members, Leadership candidates, Committee chairs, and awards recipients. Purposefully populate Boards and Chair ships with Black, Indigenous, and Latinx, and other minoritized geoscientists and students to be better representative of the membership and ensure all voices are heard.
  12. Actively recruit and pay Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized geoscientists as journal editors and reviewers, session conveners, and mentorship event participants. This pay is partially in recognition of the reparations due to all Black and Indigenous People.
  13. Directly sponsor networking events for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized geoscientists at all meetings and other large gatherings. Financial hardship is a reality for many Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized students and professionals. Societies and organizations should be doing the utmost to remove financial barriers to events which often result in career-advancing conversations and connections.
  14. Publish annual, data-rich reports of the self-reported, intersectional demographics of members, including demographic data about who is getting awards and who is engaged in leadership in the organization. These reports should be made publicly available and accessible through an annual evaluation. As scientists, we know the value of data and must measure progress on properly serving and retaining Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized geoscientists using data-driven methods.
  15. Finally, organizations should no longer relegate “Diversity” to non-technical sessions or fireside chats, but should actively elevate discussions on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Justice to well-attended spaces. Keynote Symposia, Presidential Addresses, and Awards Ceremonies should acknowledge and feature a truly diverse array of speakers representative of the technical community. When these sessions are relegated to secondary time slots or buildings or are scheduled simultaneously with other sessions of interest, attendees are more likely to be members of minoritized groups and allies. Non-minoritized members need to know that they are expected to show up.


VMSG Newsletter #45

No. 45: March 2020
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’ (Julian of Norwich, 1342-c.1426)


Welcome to our first digital newsletter! In our new era of physical distancing, it seems appropriate that VMSG joins the 21st Century  for fast electronic communication. Hopefully, as we all bed in to this new regime, our re-vitalised communication tools will help us all stay socially-connected. We hope you have been enjoying the new website too. You can also find us on Twitter (@vmsg_uk), Facebook and Instagram.

This edition brings a look back to the heady crazy times of of the Annual VMSG meeting where we were all able to meet in a room together and share science and socialise. It was a great meeting! By coincidence this edition’s volunteered contributions had a strong flavour around volcano outreach, so I solicited more ‘outreach’ themed contributions and this is what we have!  Issue no. 45: the ‘Outreach’ Special.

Hopefully some inspiration here for connected times ahead, but also some sources of digital materials to share with those currently experiencing the joys of home-schooling. Watch out soon for some more virtual VMSG Community activities!

Stay safe!


VMSG Annual Meeting Plymouth

Some 140 delegates gathered in Plymouth from the 7th-9th of January for our Annual Meeting. We had a wide range of topics that broadly reflected our communities interests and that of the Plymouth VMSG group, from hazards, risk and communication to timescales and rates of magmatic processes. There was also the inception of the ‘Early Careers Research’ Forum to go along with the forum for students and research students. Speaking of which we managed our usual good balance of research students, as illustrated by Sam Engwell’s graphic. Sam is the ‘Equality and Diversity’ Officer for the VMSG Committee and will be reporting on some more analysis she has done in the near future.

Balance of student and other presenters and delegates at VMSG 2020. Graphic: Sam Engwell

Of course, the student talks and posters as well as being numerous were fantastic examples of how to present well! Engaging, clear and, in the case of the talks,  on time! So, judging the best posters and talks was very tough but here they are!

In addition to this we also had some exciting keynote presentations as well as the VMSG Prize Talk from David Pyle (Oxford University). Congratulations again to him!


Photo from @RebeccaPaisley9

A few other photos and snippets from Twitter during the meeting. Big thanks to Paul Cole, Michelle Harris and Irene Manzella for all your organising skills – it was a fantastic meeting! Thank you also to Iain Stewart who gave a very successful public lecture.

Finally, next year’s VMSG (which could be VERY EXCITING INDEED IF WE ARE ALL OUT AND ABOUT) will be hosted by the team at Manchester University.

VMSG Student Bursary Report

Javiera Villalobos Orchard (Manchester University) Attending Goldschmidt2019 Conference in Barcelona, 18-23 August 2019

As a first-timer at Goldschmidt, I arrived at the conference filled with anticipation, excitement, and most of all: nerves! But even from the Icebreaker evening I could spot many familiar faces, people I have met over my years as an Undergraduate back in Chile, and later from collaborations and friendly chats at conferences such as VMSG and GGRiP during my time as a PhD student here in the UK, that made me feel part of it already. The last Goldschmidt introduced a new modality of presentation for people that, like me, asked for oral presentations but were not able to be allocated one at highly solicited sessions: a flash-talk, that allowed in 4 minutes to briefly present the highlights of their research and advertise their poster.

Goldschmidt 2019 Flash Talks. Photo: Rebeca Lopez-Adams

I presented some of the work of my PhD with the title ‘Tracing subduction zone fluids in the Izu arc using molybdenum isotopes’ in the session: Subduction zones and associated fluid and mass-transfer processes. With my flash talk on Wednesday morning and my poster session on Wednesday evening, I was fortunate to have enough time during the first days of the conference to get familiar with the setting, practise my presentation and make use of every small break to catch up with colleagues and invite them to my presentation. As a result, my flash-talk had a great turnout, I received very good comments and many people that had not seen my work before came to my poster later. After my talk, I even had the chance to talk about possible job offers, which as a final-year PhD student is exactly what I was looking for! At the poster session I had some interesting chats and discussed my work from new perspectives, got very positive feedback about my data and my models, made some new contacts and strengthened connections I previously had.

Goldschmidt 2019 Poster Presentation: Photo: Rebeca Lopez-Adams

Aside from my own presentation, I really enjoyed hearing the talks in the so many different sessions at the conference – from isotope geochemistry to astrobiology, subduction zones to core formation, economic geology to carbon sequestration. I was amazed by the amount, variety and quality of the science presented at Goldschmidt, and it was often hard to decide which session to attend as there were many interesting ones happening at the same time. It was an enlightening and inspiring experience for sure, and very successful in terms of networking, receiving feedback and broadcasting my work, which I am happy to have been able to take part in and I am sure will have a positive impact in my career.

Meetings (contributed by Kevin Murphy)

New Topics in Mineral Sciences

(1)    Diffusion in Minerals, Rocks and Melts: Potential and Pitfalls

October 23rd 2020

Burlington House, London

This meeting, intended to be the first of a new series, will review recent work in diffusion modelling and its application to a range of geological problems. How good (or not) can models be? What are the limits of what can be stated from our models? What are the pitfalls? It is intended to appeal to those interested in applying diffusion modelling to problems of rates, timing and thermal history in a wide range of mineralogical contexts.

The meeting will be led by a series of invited speakers who will address the fundamentals of diffusion theory and its application to modelling geological processes, and provide examples of state-of-the-art research on diffusions in various contexts. These will be followed by a Poster session, primarily for Student Poster presentations, with 90 second nano-introductions to each poster. The proceedings will conclude with a panel discussion.

We will hold one-day short course on diffusion modelling on October 22nd, and details will be made available as soon as possible.

For up-to-date information check the Mineralogical Society web site at

The meeting is supported by: The Applied Mineralogy Group & The Metamorphic Studies Group as well as VMSG!

BEGINS OUTREACH SPECIAL – web pages, events and various volcano and magma-y fun!

Your Science Out There

(contributed by Tamsin Mather)

Funded by the Royal Society, Your Science Out There is a collaboration between myself, the Oxford Sparks outreach portal and 3 amazing Earth Sciences PhD students to develop a series of videos and teaching resources. Our aim is to share our excitement about pushing the frontiers of science to understand planetary-scale processes and to show students that the concepts that they are learning at school (or beyond!) are used daily by researchers at the knowledge frontier. The classroom resources have been developed in collaboration with education specialists and link these Earth Science topics into key areas of the Chemistry and Physics schools curriculum. We hope that this will arm teachers with exciting material opening new horizons in student perception of where science can take you and the possibilities of studying Earth and Environmental Sciences. We particularly hope that they VMSG community will enjoy Anna Brookfield’s video showcasing her volcano science. If you like the site then please spread the word!

The Cosmic Cast: an Earth and planetary science podcast from the University of Manchester

Contributed by Marissa Lo

Along with John Pernet-Fisher, Tom Harvey, Ricci Bahia, and Elliot Carter, I’ve been working on a podcast for the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry research group, here at the University of Manchester. On The Cosmic Cast, we talk to researchers, from PhD to professor level, about their research and their career path. So far, we’ve spoken to a few members of the VMSG community, such as: igneous petrologists, David Neave and Emma Waters; atmospheric volcanologist, Cat Hayer; and remote sensing researchers, Matthew Varnam and Ben Esse. The podcast is pitched at undergraduate level, but is aimed at anyone who is keen to learn more about Earth and planetary science. Through the podcast, we’re hoping to help people understand the diverse range of topics that exist in Earth sciences and to make science seem more accessible! Please give us a listen and if you’d like to be a guest on a future episode, please get in touch with me at

You can find all of the podcast episodes on our YouTube channel or on Spotify.

Geoscience for the Future

Contributed by Natasha Dowey

VMSG member Natasha Dowey has recently launched a new website called “Geoscience for the Future” ( It aims to reframe how we talk about geoscience and improve public perceptions of the topic, by showcasing research and careers that contribute to a more sustainable future. The site will host blogs from contributors working across the spectrum of geoscience- upcoming articles include industrial waste for carbon capture, engineering for landslide hazard mitigation, and mixing science with storytelling. We will also be hosting blogs about diversity issues in geoscience. We’d love to have some engaging stories from volcanologists- if any VMSG members would like to contribute to the site, please see the blog guidelines here and feel free to get in touch with Natasha on

Volcano Outreach at UEA

contributed by Jenni Barclay

In these locked down times you might find some ideas and inspiration for home experiments with simple household objects from the UEA Volcano Outreach resources page. More material will be added throughout this period from our considerable backlog of happenings!

You may also have spotted a well-known volcano-influencer Janine Krippner (Smithsonian GVP)  has been hosting some Volcano Moments on Youtube, also featuring some well known VMSG members!

Volcanoes in the (Festival) field: Outreach on the Stage

Contributed by Emma Waters

In July 2019 the Manchester Volcanology group attended Bluedot Festival along with the Earth and Solar System Outreach team. Bluedot is a music festival based at Jodrell Bank Observatory which runs every year. Along with the music the festival runs science events during the day including talks, shows, workshops and stalls. The event attracts all kinds of music and science fans and is family-friendly so all ages of visitors attend. Every year the E&SS group run a stall at the festival promoting planetary science through interaction with meteorite hand samples and a ‘meteorite hunt game’. Over the past few years we have run pop-up volcano shows alongside the stall which have involved some sticky golden syrup lava experiments and the ever favourite Coke and Mentos eruption. This year we were set a challenge by the organisers to turn this into a 30 minute science show on one of the stages!

Getting to work we translated our pop-up show to a stage show. Using a presentation and interactive experiments we explained convection in the mantle, where volcanoes are found and why, different viscosities of lavas (golden syrup on its own and mixed with sprinkles/marshmallows) and effusive (bicarbonate soda and vinegar) vs. explosive eruptions (Coke & Mentos).


The finale was our trashcano, something we decided to bring in for the show specially. This involved a lot of work testing outside the department to get the technique down and thankfully on the day it went off with a good bang. Things learned from trashcano: 1. To gather an Earth Science department email to say there will be a trashcano testing at a specific time and not to be alarmed by a bang. 2. Get a strong bin. 3. If using rubber ducks as projectiles they will be stolen by exited 5 year olds.

Reflecting on the change to a bigger, advertised show we certainly attracted much higher numbers than in previous years. We estimate the audience size that watched the entire show was around 100 people. Others who came in late or passed by at the end asked if we would be on again so they could come back and watch. Having the use of a screen and more time meant we could explain more of the theory and importantly explain what volcanologists do and why it is important. With the large age range captured this was an excellent opportunity to bring the field into the public eye. At the end we provided information on where people could find out more about volcanoes and careers within geology and volcanology. Following the show we had many visitors come with follow-up questions, either from what we had said or general volcano questions. ‘Volcanoes: What makes them go bang?’ was very well received and we have been invited back again this year with potential for multiple shows over the weekend. As a group we hope to continue running this new outreach activity for as long as there are people to support it, having seen how it enthuses the public about a subject which is sadly being less frequently taught in UK schools.

Walking through an extinct volcano

Contributed by Richard A. Batchelor, Chairman, geoHeritage Fife, Honorary Research Fellow, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of St. Andrews

In Scotland’s East Neuk of Fife, numerous volcanic necks of late-Carboniferous age have punched through Lower Carboniferous sedimentary sequences. The volcanism is of alkali mafic to undersaturated mafic compositions. Locally they form spectacular coastal scenery such as at the Rock and Spindle near St. Andrews.

While this locality is used by specialist groups and students to study the dynamics of late-Carboniferous volcanism, it is important that access is relatively easy in order to bring the volcanic necks to the attention of the general public. One such location is the exposed neck at Elie Harbour.


This site has been selected by geoHeritage Fife, a local geodiversity charity, to form the basis of a geological trail leaflet. Work on it has been undertaken by Richard Batchelor, (Chair), Rosalind Garton  (Secretary) and University of St. Andrews geology undergraduate, Rebecca Bateman. “Proof-walking” by geoHeritage Fife members makes sure that the leaflets are easy to understand for the non-geologist.


Concentrically dipping beds of basaltic tuff show where the cauldron collapsed inwards. In the tuff are blocks of basalt from previous eruptions, some plucked by hot ash and gases on their way up while others may have fallen back into the vent.


A large block of sandstone is welded to the tuff below. As the volcanic cauldron collapsed, substantial fragments of the surrounding Carboniferous sediments rock fell in and became part of the neck.


Storytelling Workshop at VMSG2020

Contributed by Jenni Barclay

After the final day of VMSG 2020, some 30 or so hardy souls set off on a ‘hero’s journey'(*)  to learn some more about the art and science of storytelling with Iain Stewart and Jenni Barclay. The group were able to discuss how this technique can not only helps scientists connect with their intended audience, but that they can also be mined for information about some of the interactions and impacts of risky situations. Finally, the process or act of coming together to share stories can improve how we understand and share information.

As if to prove the value of shared stories the group used the final exercise (to put into practice some of the elements talked about in the presentations) to come up with a triumphant idea. They wanted to battle common misconceptions about volcanic activity and its vagaries through a proposed series of children’s books designed to explore several iconic eruptions using the important elements of a good story. Publishers form an orderly queue here please(**)! The resultant stories ranged from a cat-rescuing, precursory earthquake recognising Minoan girl, to a lava-tube and time travelling visitor to the 122 B.C. Plinian eruption of Etna. On the way home we used the travel time to come up with lyrics that conveyed the uncertainty of volcanic eruptions via the #volcanohero

There once was a young girl called Margot, Who lived happily on a volcano, One day she felt quakes, The town started to shake, So she roused the villagers and said “let’s go!” @drnatashadowey

There once was a volcano, who got all grumpy, his caldera was all short and stumpy, Some gases were farted, But eruption never started And his caldera just got even more lumpy @volcanojenni

There was once an active caldera, Whose emissions made scientists fear a Sudden fiery outburst, They awaited the worst, While others wished signs would be clearer @ailsanaismith

Sulphur dioxide beginning to gout led one keen observer to shout “Magma has got quite shallow, This volcano’s not fallow! Now might be a good time to get out!” @OrbitalPete

An edifice ready to blow, Tilted at letting us know, Tremor harmonic (Percussion chthonic) And animals fleeing not slow. @VolColMac

There was a volcano named Etna Who said “Am I active? You betcha! If my summit starts blowing And lava starts flowing Look out cos I’m coming to get ya! @elle_emm_cee

(*) if you don’t know about the hero’s journey you should have come

(**) not kidding(***)

(***) yes, I know asterisks are not a top story-telling tool!

Read all About it!

Aaaaaaaand…..finally here is someone who has made his publishing dreams a reality, if you need to relax with a bit of apocalypse.

Bill McGuire (last Chair of VSG; first chair of VMSG) has a novel coming out in September this year. SKYSEED is an environmental thriller about geoengineering gone wrong. It also features a key role for Bolivia’s Uturuncu volcano. Pre-order on Amazon UK from the end of June.