Funding provider: Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering
Subject areas: Volcanology, Geoscience
Project start date:
- 1 July 2022 (Enrolment open from mid-June)
- Dr Katie Preece (Swansea, Geography)
- Professor Richard Johnston (Swansea, Engineering)
- Professor Darren Mark (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre)
- Dr Khachatur Meliksetian (Institute of Geological Sciences, Armenian National Academy of Sciences)
Aligned programme of study: PhD in Physical Geography
Mode of study: Full-time
This timely PhD project will capitalize, and expand on, recent advances in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology and sample imaging techniques, in order to understand the evolution, recurrence rates and eruptive behaviour of monogenetic volcanism in continent-continent collision zones. The student will resolve the temporal and spatial evolution of the Gegham and Vardenis Highlands monogenetic fields (central and eastern Armenia), a region containing hundreds of poorly-studied Pleistocene – Holocene scoria cones and domes. Armenia, despite its small size, is the site of > 500 Quaternary volcanoes, many of them monogenetic. It is envisaged the student will have the opportunity to carry out fieldwork in Armenia, although some samples are already available in case of travel restrictions. The student will conduct high-precision 40Ar/39Ar dating, in order to build a detailed eruption chronology for the volcanic field. This project will take advantage of recent advances in 40Ar/39Ar dating made by the supervisory team, which mean traditionally difficult to date young lavas and mafic to intermediate pyroclasts can now be reliably dated, offering new possibilities to date samples previously thought undateable. In addition, the student will integrate cutting-edge imaging techniques (microCT, SEM) to investigate rock vesicularity and crystallinity, key indicators of the driving forces behind past eruptions, and crucial for understanding the nature of any future volcanism. Imaging can additionally be used to explore the effects of rock texture on 40Ar/39Ar dating, in order to further develop dating methods of traditionally difficult samples.
A comprehensive training programme will be provided comprising both specialist scientific training and generic transferable and professional skills. The student will undertake training in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), state-of-art imaging techniques in the Advanced Imaging of Materials Facility (Swansea University), in addition to volocanological field techniques. This project will take advantage of the supervisory teams broad expertise in volcanology, geochronology, and correlative imaging.
The candidate will join the well-established and expanding Volcanoes and Tephra research group within the Department of Geography at Swansea University. They will have the opportunity to link their research to state-of the-art facilities within the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Swansea University, as well as within SUERC, and work with an international network of collaborators.