I’ve always loved geothermal features – Rotorua was my favourite place to visit as a kid and I was always nagging my parents to take me to see the geysers and mudpools. I got interested in deep geothermal during my PhD on Krafla volcano in Iceland, where the search for supercritical conditions resulted in an accidental drilling encounter with rhyolite magma at only about 2 km depth. There is now a big international effort to study this magma body and how it interacts with the overlying geothermal system, including plans to intentionally drill to the magma again to study it in situ. It’s fascinating stuff and pushes the envelope on multiple fronts – from the scientific challenge of understanding the origin and architecture of this magma body and the conditions around it, to the engineering challenge of drilling to these conditions. I love this intersection of volcanology and geothermal geology –there is huge potential to make major advances at the intersection of these fields and I am so excited to be working in that space.
Constant learning. Every day I get to find out more about things I am interested in. I love the variety of an Earth Science career as well – the mix of field work, lab work and analysis.
Rooyakkers, S.M., Stix, J., Berlo, K., Barker, S.J. 2020. Emplacement of unusual rhyolitic to basaltic ignimbrites during collapse of a basalt-dominated caldera: The Halarauður eruption, Krafla (Iceland). GSA Bulletin, 132 (9-10): 1881–1902.
Probably my 2020 GSA Bulletin paper, the first from my PhD work. Working in the field was one of the big attractions of an Earth Science career for me, but I was always a pretty rubbish field geologist. I really wanted to change that by making fieldwork a key component of my PhD, so I decided to conduct a field study of deposits from largest known eruption of Krafla for my first chapter. It was challenging and it took a while to build those field skills up, but it was so much fun piecing it all together and I got really comfortable in the field. The deposits themselves turned out to be really unusual, so it was quite a cool and interesting story.
Where are you?
Sitting on the lava field from the 2014-2015 Holuhraun eruption in Iceland.
What are you doing?
Coffee break! I had spent the morning at the nearby Askja caldera looking at deposits and we decided to head over and check out the recent lavas in the afternoon.
Read more about Shane's experience here.