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Understanding post-caldera volcanic processes in Deception Island (Antarctica): Implications for assessing future potential volcanic hazards

Probably the most relevant interest for society of the scientific research in volcanology is predicting volcanic eruptions. Obviously if we know where, when and how the volcanic a future eruption will be, the better we will act to save lives and minimize the impact of these natural disasters on infrastructures and the environment. Processes of caldera collapse represent a key scenario on advancing in these aspects as they can promote one of the highest catastrophes in the planet. Deception Island (Antarctica) is an excellent natural laboratory for this purpose as the post-caldera features are recent and well preserved, offering thus fundamental information about the collapse evolution.

This interdisciplinary project proposal pretends to constrain and understand the key factors controlling post-caldera volcanic processes on Deception Island by characterizing the current state of the magmatic system under the island. Hence, the essential questions that this project plans to elucidate are: how the magma body(ies) formed and evolve toward a particular eruptive style and size?, and, are there any preferred ascent path(s) for the magma ascent and at any frequency? In order to understand, answer and quantify the effects of the different questions outlined above, the unique characteristics of each process require to be identified. Attempts to face these issues through different disciplinary studies, but separately, result in isolated and less definitive conclusions and solutions. Thus, we need to combine a deep petrologic and geochemical knowledge with previous geophysical studies of the area. As additional novel approach, the obtained dataset will be in turn integrated with the results of remote sensing tasks.

This project will finally be able not only to advance in the frontier knowledge of postcaldera volcanic processes, but also offer invaluable benefits for society related to achieving an efficient reaction against a potential future eruption by improving the awareness of the people living, working and visiting this volcanically active region. Probably the most relevant interest for society of the scientific research in volcanology is predicting volcanic eruptions to save lives and minimize the impact of these natural disasters on infrastructures and the environment. Active caldera systems have important socioeconomic implications since they represent a major threat for population and the environment, making the study of post-caldera activity an essential objective in Earth Sciences. To date, studies on post-caldera volcanism are scarce and most of them focussed on looking at specific aspects of particular eruptions rather than on the whole process as a consequence of, and since, the caldera formation. Therefore, this has provided at the moment a rather biased knowledge. POSVOLDEC project results are expected to step the frontier of knowledge in post-caldera volcanic processes and related hazards, providing a holistic, integrated and quantitative model of post-caldera volcanism in Deception Island. It is the ambitious objective of this project to develop such conceptual model that can then be applied to interpret and predict the behaviour of the post-caldera system and its potential hazards in Deception in particular, and elsewhere in general. In addition to its scientific value, this research project has also invaluable societal implications since it aims at improving the awareness of the people living, working and visiting this volcanically active region to improve their preparedness towards a future eruption. The publication of scientific results obtained in high-ranked journals is guaranteed given the likely level of interest of the project, the potential applicability of the results that will be achieved, as well as the high levels of experience contributed by the research group based on their previous projects. The POSVOLDEC project will also contribute to the consolidation of the Spanish research group in the Antarctic context as a leading advisory body on the issues addressed. It will also improve the international acclaim of Spain in the study of Antarctic volcanism, through the publication and dissemination of the project results, which will have a great significance not only scientifically but also socioeconomically. Antarctic volcanism has recently become a subject of special interest for SCAR, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, an interdisciplinary body of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which in 2014 formed a new Expert Group on Antarctic Volcanism (ANTVOLC) (http://www.scar.org/ssg/geosciences/antvolc). The group aims to: (1) Promote the study of Antarctic volcanism and disperse information, (2) discuss protocols, methods, best practices, (3) integrate and share geological information, (4) facilitate regional correlations (e.g. tephrochronology), (5) compile, integrate and publish databases (e.g. outcrop maps, geochemistry), (6) Identify priorities, critical issues, future scientific directions, (7) Develop collaborations and international joint research projects, (8) exchange data and ideas with other SCAR Scientific Programmes or Expert Groups, (9) provide a clear route map for obtaining expert advice in case of volcanic crises, e.g. Deception Island, Mount Erebus, Mount Melbourne, and (10) develop productive links with related science disciplines (e.g. glaciology, biology, modelling). POSVOLDEC is fully compliant with these objectives.



  • John Smelie (University of Leicester)
  • Antonio Álvarez (Universidad de Salamanca)
  • Kristin S. Vogfjöro (Icelandic Meteorological Office)
  • Simon Gascoin (Centre D'Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphere)
  • Gabor Kereszturi (Massey University)
  • Karoly Nemeth (Massey University)
  • Fidel Costa Rodríguez (Earth Observatory of Singapore)
  • Juan Francisoc Andújar (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique)



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