My Research

Research Philosophy


My belief is that the research process is not complete until it has been effectively communicated to the public, other scientists, and to those who may find it useful (e.g. stakeholders, emergency managers).

I am also an avid advocate for publishing results in journals that support open access.


Summary of Research Interests

I am interested in geochemical tools that are able to convey useful information about  volcanic hazards to emergency planners and other scientists.

Topics of Interest: Basaltic Volcanism * Monogenetic Volcanism * Volcanic Hazards * Eruption Chronology * Igneous Geochemistry * Magmatic Volatiles * Melt Inclusions and Embayments * Mantle Source Compositions * Magma Ascent Rates * Volcanic Gas Emissions & Fluxes * Volcanic Gas Health Impacts

Techniques: Scientific Project Management * Fieldwork and Mapping in Volcanic and Geothermal Areas * Rock, Tephra, and Organic Matter Sample Collection for 14C, Ar-Ar Dating, & Other Geochemical Analysis  * Melt Inclusion and Embayment Preparation * XRF * XRD * EMPA * LA-ICP-MS * FTIR * Geochemical Modeling * Volatile Element Diffusion modeling * ArcGIS * Stakeholder, Public, & Media Science Communication

Outcomes from my projects may inform, e.g., how we monitor volcanoes and give estimations of eruption warning times, which can be factored into evacuation plans and perhaps even save lives and critical assets. This motivates me as a scientist and drives my keen interest in communicating my science to the public, media, and decision-makers such as emergency planners and lifelines representatives.

PhD Research

My PhD is entitled ‘The Volatile Life of Auckland Magmas: Mantle Sources, Magma Ascent Rates, and Gas Emissions.’ I am analysing and using volatiles (gasses) dissolved in melt inclusions, melt embayments, and groundmass glass to:

1. Better characterise the mantle sources feeding the volcanoes of the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF);

2. Constrain shallow, crustal magma ascent rates in the AVF; and

3. Estimate past and future gas emissions and future fluxes in the AVF.


Background: Melt inclusions and melt embayments are tiny pockets of magma wholly or partially trapped in crystals as they form. Some of these melt-laden crystals are carried to the surface during eruptions. Upon eruption, the magma they contain cools into glass, preserving the gases. These melt pockets are ideal tools for examining the original gas concentrations in the magma, as gasses within the magma escape to the atmosphere upon eruption. By analysing the gas concentrations in the trapped magma, we can learn more about the original melt compositions, the degassing and ascent history of the magma, and how much noxious or deadly gas future eruptions may emit.

The outcomes from this project will be used to improve warning times and better prepare Auckland for gas hazards before future eruptions.

I expect to finish my PhD in May 2021.


Past and Ongoing Research Topics (Non-PhD)

  • Obtaining ages of AVF volcanoes (through the DEVORA Programme; ongoing)
  • Obtaining geochemistry information for all AVF volcanoes (DEVORA; ongoing)
  • Estimating baseline soil gas CO2 fluxes, concentrations, and d13C values in urban environments such as the AVF & investigate ways to improve monitoring strategies (DEVORA; ongoing)
  • Measuring base surge runout distances and tephra extents in the AVF using ground penetrating radar (GPR) (DEVORA; Past)
  • Analysis of olivine populations and Cr-spinel inclusions in Pupuke Volcano lavas, AVF (DEVORA; Past)
  • Monitoring changes in surface features in geothermal fields in and near Taupo, New Zealand (Past)
  • Monitoring changes in subsurface structures on Whakaari (White Island) Volcano, New Zealand, using GPR, visible and infrared aerial photography, mapping, and soil gas CO2 fluxes (Past)

2011.11.22 WI

Aerial image of a steaming Whaakari (White Island) Volcano taken during a research flyover in 2011. Photo by Elaine Smid.


Future Directions

Post-PhD, I am interested in expanding and honing my geochemical and diffusion modeling skill sets to investigate the influence of magmatic volatiles on magmatic compositions, rheological properties, and how this information can improve and inform volcanic monitoring and hazard mitigation strategies.

In particular, I would like to learn Raman and SIMS sample preparation and geochemical analyses.