OpenCampus Culture Café – ‘GEMS of Hull Geology, Environment, Marine Science and Us - Tales from Yorkshire and beyond’.
‘Deadly clouds and volcanic flows’
Speaker: Dr Rebecca Williams, Lecturer and Geology Subject Group Head, School of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Hull
In 1902, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society's volcanologist Tempest Anderson visited the Lesser Antilles and witnessed two catastrophic volcanic eruptions. The pyroclastic density currents from the eruption of Mount Pelée, Martinique, killed almost 29,000 people. Anderson photographed and described these deadly flows - some of the first modern descriptions in volcanology. The same month saw 1,500 people killed by La Soufriere on St Vincent. How has our understanding and mitigation of these deadly flows changed since Anderson's time?
Pyroclastic density currents are flows of searing hot gas, ash and rocks that swoop down the sides of a volcano during the most violent eruptions. They can travel at speeds of up to 450 mph and can be as hot as 1,000°C. Historically, they have been responsible for over 90,000 deaths, and so are the most deadly volcanic phenomenon.
In this lecture, The British Science Festival 2017 Charles Lyell Award winning lecturer, Dr Rebecca Williams will discuss recent advances and whether we are any closer to understanding these deadly volcanic flows than Anderson was in the early 1900’s.
Dr Rebecca Williams is a volcanologist and igneous geologist. In 2017, she was the recipient of the Charles Lyell Award Lecture for Environmental Sciences at the British Science Festival. Award winners are competitively awarded from the top UK researchers in their field and are recognised for their innovative work and engaging communication skills. Her research aims to understand the processes occurring in hazardous volcanic flows in order to better inform hazard assessments. She has an interdisciplinary approach to research, which integrates many techniques such as terrestrial and marine fieldwork, tephrochronology, geochemical analyses and computer modelling, used to understand complex geological problems. Rebecca is a dedicated science communicator, appearing on national radio and international news.