Thread: Ph.D. position at Penn State University in geodetic modeling

Started: 2019-08-14 21:56:07
Last activity: 2019-08-14 21:56:07
Christelle Wauthier
2019-08-14 21:56:07
Applications are solicited for a Ph.D. student at the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, to begin Fall of 2020, who will play a key role in an NSF-funded project on “Modeling of Crater Floor Deformation in Relationship with Lava Lake Activity” (see project abstract below). The selected Ph.D. student will be based at Penn State under the supervision of Dr. Christelle Wauthier. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with Drs. Benoît Smets (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium) and Nicolas d’Oreye (ECGS, Luxembourg). Current plans for the Ph.D. project will focus on interpretation and numerical modeling of geodetic InSAR time-series measurements at two lava-hosting volcanoes in the Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo.

The candidate will be highly motivated with a keen interest in volcanic processes, geodetic modeling, and geophysics. A strong background in geophysics, and proficiency with at least one programming language (i.e., MATLAB) are required. Previous experience with geodetic modeling - ideally numerical modeling approaches - data inversions, and a strong desire to learn new computational methods, are highly desirable. Experience in InSAR is a plus but is not essential. The candidate must have completed a Master degree or BS/BSc degree with a significant geophysical research component at the time of appointment.

If you are interested, contact and send your CV to Dr. Christelle Wauthier at cuw25<at><cuw25<at>>.
Applicants should follow the procedures for application for Graduate Study at Penn State University, with a full submission ideally completed by early November, 2019.
Candidates from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

*Project Abstract:*
To understand better how volcanoes work and forecast future eruptions, knowing where and how much magma is located beneath the volcano is key. Lava lakes offer a unique window into the superficial part of a magma plumbing system. However, only a few volcanoes on Earth host (semi-) permanently a lava lake. Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hosts the largest lava lake on Earth. Nyamulagira Volcano, the neighbor of Nyiragongo Volcano, also hosts regularly a small lava lake in a pit crater since 2014. By imaging the ground deformation around lava lakes in the summit areas of those volcanoes, we can model how the magma plumbing system looks like. The two volcanoes targeted for analysis in this project are hazardous and can quickly transition from open-vent lava lake activity to dangerous and fast distal flank eruptions. In particular, the hazards posed by Nyiragongo are considerable, as highlighted by the last deadly flank eruption in 2002. Given that other volcanoes in the U.S. (Hawaii) and elsewhere share similarities with those Congo volcanoes, the research proposed here has broad implications for volcanoes and eruption forecasting worldwide.

This project will address the following question at two hazardous volcanoes hosting lava lakes: What is causing the deformation of Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira (Democratic Republic of Congo)’s crater floors? The project will take advantage of recent spatially and temporally dense Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) datasets acquired over Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira volcanoes (Democratic Republic of Congo). Those dense datasets are processed with a recently developed InSAR time series approach, the Multidimensional Small BAseline Subset (MSBAS) method (Samsonov and d’Oreye, 2012) that allows to ingest different satellite and orbits within the same SBAS algorithm to output a detailed time-series of ground displacements. Then, the project will aim to model the ground surface deformation observed in the summit areas of both volcanoes during periods of various lava lake activity. The ground deformation of the crater floors is due to one - or a combination - of the following factors, that will each need to be thoroughly investigated and tested at each volcano: lava flow cooling and subsidence, pressure changes in a shallow reservoir, motion along caldera ring faults, and magma intrusion cooling and subsidence. By integrating several remote sensing geodetic (ground surface deformation) datasets processed with an innovative time series approach, with other remote sensing based lava lake surface heights, thermal anomalies and gas (i.e., SO2), together with other ground-based measurements such as seismic and gas, a conceptual model of the shallow part of the magma plumbing system will be developed at two volcanic systems.

Dr Christelle Wauthier

Assistant Professor
Department of Geosciences and Institute for CyberScience
The Pennsylvania State University

Phone: (814) 863-6649


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