January 16, 2017

Fluid-rock interaction at the magma-geothermal interface

Fluid-rock interaction at the magma-geothermal interface 400 x 400 px

The accidental drilling into rhyolitic magma at Krafla volcano, Iceland in 2009 has opened exciting possibilities for research that could transform our ability to detect stored magma, whilst potentially providing unprecedentedly powerful geothermal energy.

However, magma detection and heat extraction both require knowledge of how magma intrusions interact with geothermal fluids, which we currently lack as no intact core has been retrieved. You will contribute to the growing international research effort at Krafla by using its most recent rhyolitic eruption as a natural laboratory to investigate magma-geothermal interactions.

During fieldwork in Iceland, hosted by Landvirkjun at their geothermal power station, you will characterize the nature of quenched rhyolitic magma bodies and the physical and chemical interactions with hydrothermal fluids. To achieve this you will employ textural and geochemical approaches back in the UK, including scanning electron microscopy, electron probe micro-analysis and infra-red spectroscopy, to quantify magma fracturing and chemical reactions.

Your results will shed new light on the behavior of magma at intrusion margins, high-temperature rock-fluid interactions and hydrothermal alteration processes. There will be opportunities to collaborate with other institutions (e.g. BGS, Liverpool, Landsvirkjun) and attend national and international research conferences, with further potential for involvement in drilling-related workshops in Iceland. You will receive full training from experts in a suite of state-of-the-art field, lab and computer-based approaches.

Information on the magma drilling programme at Krafla:

Papers on Krafla rhyolite and the 2009 drilling:

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Geology/Geophysics, Geography, Earth/Environmental Science or Natural Sciences, and be numerate. A Masters-level degree or relevant experience in field characterisation of volcanic rocks, geochemical or textural analysis would be advantageous.

For further details please contact Dr Hugh Tuffen