Research programs

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ClerVolc research is organized around seven thematic programs:

1 – Detection and characterization of volcanic plumes and ash clouds

We build on our previously existing capabilities in ground-based remote sensing, satellite remote sensing and aircraft-based instruments to make quantitative measurements of volcanic plumes and ash clouds, and to derive ways of quantifying eruption source parameters from these measurements.  We also carry out measurements and modelling of the nucleation and growth of aerosols in volcanic plumes. The development of probabilistic models of particle fallout from volcanic plumes allows integration of the results into hazard maps.

2 – Internal structure and deformation of volcanic edifices

We carry out research on the measurement and modeling of volcano deformation prior to, during, and following eruptions. This allows us to quantify the processes of magma intrusion within volcanoes and its relationship to eruption and edifice instability, and to better characterize eruption precursor signals at volcanoes in states of unrest. New mathematical techniques of inverting volcanic deformation and gravity data have been generated. The development of new particle detectors has allowed us to enter the growing field of volcano radiography using cosmogenic muons.

3 – Volatile elements: the driving force behind volcanic activity

We use a range of cutting-edge analytical techniques to characterize volcanic products (lava, pumice and ash), determine magma volatile compositions, reconstruct magma degassing histories, and quantify eruption physical and chemical parameters. Interpretations of the data are constrained by experimental and theoretical studies. A particular approach has involved the use of short-lived radionuclides for the quantification of the rates and timescales of magma degassing.

4 – The evolution of volcanic edifices and their plumbing systems: mechanisms and timescales

We carry out research on the measurement and modeling of volcano deformation prior to, during, and following

We document the temporal evolution of volcanic edifices, and of their magmas and plumbing systems, through the acquisition of high-temporal-resolution time series of field, petrological, geochemical and geochronological data. These are coupled with experimental determination of chemical and physical parameters essential for the interpretation of those data.

5 – Mantle control of magma sources

We characterize the deep processes controlling magma generation, and the long-term behavior of volcanoes, through geochemical observations and laboratory experiments. Notably, we focus on the nature, fluxes and timescales of magma transfer beneath island-arc volcanoes, deep-versus-shallow origins of hotspot magmatism, global recycling of fusible material, and the elements that facilitate melting, geothermal gradients and partial melting processes in the deep mantle.

6 – Volcanic mass flows and lava flows: genesis and impacts

We study the dynamics of pyroclastic flows, lahars, debris avalanches and lava flows, using field, experimental and numerical approaches.The development of a new mathematical model for pyroclastic flows has been a particular focus of the programme. A major challenge is the collection of high-quality field measurements with which to validate existing in-house mathematical models of such flows, and we have developed new monitoring systems to this end.

7 – Origin of Volcanoes and of the Earth

We study melt production in the deep mantle using ultra-high-pressure, high-temperature experimentation, and relate the results to seismic tomography imagery. We also carry out research on the formation and early evolution of the Earth, with a focus on the origin of volcanoes and magmas. The approaches include high-pressure experimentation, numerical modelling, and petrological and geochemical studies of old continental terrains, lunar samples and meteorites as analogues of the ancient Earth, in order to understand the conditions that led to the appearance of volcanism.