Research course

Volcano dynamics

Open University · Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area

Months of entry


Course content

Researchers in the Volcano Dynamics Group are interested in understanding how volcanoes work and how they affect the environment, wherever they occur, even on other planets. Our research covers satellite-based volcano monitoring and eruption detection, deep Earth processes, surface environmental impact, and planetary perspectives of magmatism.

Our research takes us to active and ancient volcanoes across the world - to Central America, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa, and more. At any one time there are about ten students working towards a PhD in volcanology-related topics. This makes us one of the major university volcanology groups in the UK, and you will find us regularly presenting our work at international and national conferences.

Students work with volcanologists, petrologists, geophysicists, geochemists, geochronologists, biogeochemists, statisticians, planetary scientists, ecosystem scientists and specialists in remote sensing on research projects to solve problems relating to the following types of topic:

  • Forecasting volcanic eruptions
  • Environmental impacts of volcanic activity
  • Geochemistry of igneous rocks and solid Earth processes
  • Rates and timescales of volcanic processes
  • Monitoring active volcanism from satellites.

Current/recent research projects

  • Volcanism in glacial environments
  • Forecasting the duration of volcanic eruptions
  • Environmental impact of persistent volcanism
  • The structure and dynamics of the Northern Volcanic Zone in Iceland
  • Volcanic architecture and mineral prospectivity of the Central Kalkarindji Continental Flood Basalt Province, Australia
  • Ecological impacts of degassing from Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua
  • Understanding the evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex (Mars) and comparison with volcanoes in the Afar Rift System (Earth)
  • Iceland’s largest explosive eruptions

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of volcanology, including igneous petrology and geochemistry, and those linked to Earth System processes.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months
distance learning
variable months

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036