Success for Geography in GLOSS Research Associate scheme

Tom PeringThis Summer, Dr Tom Pering and Rebecca England (a 2nd year BSc Geography student) will be conducting fieldwork on the slopes of Masaya – a volcano in Nicaragua. Funded by the GLOSS Research Associate scheme, the project will conduct final testing on a low-cost approach to volcano hazard assessment, pioneered by staff in the Department of Geography.

Volcanic activity, which drives some of the most hazardous events globally, is driven by gases which are contained within magma. The measurement of gas release is therefore a key aspect of volcano monitoring and eruption forecasting. However, the cost of the equipment to do this until recently been a barrier to its widespread use.

The Sheffield Volcano Group has recently pioneered a UV camera system, based on smartphone camera sensors, for measuring volcanic gas emissions. This system has the capacity to revolutionise our understanding of how volcanoes work, our ability to forecast eruptions worldwide, and to map the spread of hazardous gases.
Tom and Rebecca will be working at Masaya to conduct final testing on this monitoring system. Masaya has been chosen as a field site because of the continuous hazard posed by the volcano and because of the lack of funding to install currently available continuous gas monitoring stations.

Speaking about his research and the upcoming fieldwork, Dr Tom Pering explained:

“Several recent projects I have led involved low cost alternatives to previously high cost methods and I am keen to see that this technology is developed and used internationally. Rebecca will be working in the field as a research assistant and so she will learn invaluable skills for a career in volcanology such as fieldwork preparation, protocols in the field, analysing data, and finally writing a scientific paper. Rebecca’s interest in a volcanology-based career makes her an ideal candidate for the Research Associate scheme and will enable her to engage with key members of the research community.“

Rebecca discussed her reasons for applying for the scheme:

“Since GSCE Geography, volcanology has fascinated me and my intention is to do a Masters in Volcanology. Gaining hands-on practical experience in the field will be invaluable for further study. Before hearing of the GLOSS scheme I had explored other internships, but found that they required me to be studying for a Masters or a PhD. The GLOSS scheme will also allow me to attend a conference, which will be an outstanding opportunity to network as well as gain understanding of how an academic paper is researched and written.”

To find out more about the research and to follow Tom and Rebecca’s fieldwork, visit www.volcano-blog.com