PhD, ice-core records of volcanism - St Andrews, UK

A fully funded PhD on ice-core records of volcanism is available at the University of St Andrews, UK.

The project is titled "A new multi-parameter toolkit to unlock records of past volcanism."


Supervisory Team: Dr Will Hutchison, Dr Andrea Burke and Dr James Rae (St Andrews).

Project collaborators: Prof. Siwan Davies (Swansea) and Dr Michael Sigl (Bern).


The polar ice cores preserve the finest archive of large volcanic events over the last few 100,000 years, yet we still face major challenges decoding these records. For the vast majority of ice core volcanic deposits, we have no constraints on eruption location, tectonic setting or style, and in fact >90 % of these events are still to be linked to a known source volcano.

Fortunately, over the last few years a number of exciting geochemical methods (including high-resolution glaciochemistry, isotope geochemistry and tephrochronology) have been shown to overcome these challenges and provide a new and timely opportunity to fully exploit the ice core archive.

This studentship will focus on carefully calibrating these techniques for well-known volcanic events that can be identified in ice core horizons. They shall focus on the last 2000 years of Greenlandic ice cores which have well-resolved chronological frameworks and can be compared to key climate proxies (e.g. tree rings). The student will initially focus on large Icelandic events and there will be opportunities for field work in Iceland to help correlate the proximal and distal records. The ultimate goal of this project is to extend this analysis to major unknown volcanic eruptions and reveal the likely source of massive ‘mystery’ eruptions.

The student will be based in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at St Andrews, which has recently invested over £1.3M on new analytical facilities for geochemistry. The successful candidate will work with experts in volcanology and isotope geochemistry and will gain significant new expertise in climate science and atmospheric chemistry, as well as transferable skills such as scientific writing, statistics and data analysis, and problem-solving.


The studentship is open to UK and EU students with an excellent BSc/MSci geoscience background.

Laboratory and field work experience is advantageous.


The project is open to all EU nationals and has an application deadline of 24 January 2020.

General information about eligibility, studying at the University of St Andrews, and the online application form can be found at:

Interviews are expected to take place mid-February.

Further information

See the full job description here:

For specific questions about the project, please email Will Hutchison: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.