Climate change

Figure 1. Ljósufjöll central volcano, SW Iceland. The silicic units from this volcano were predominantly erupted during glacial terminations.

Volcano-Ice interactions on Iceland: a window on volcanic processes and Quaternary climate change
We are investigating the variation in the thickness of land-based ice sheets during climate change (Figure 1). We are studying subglacial rhyolite volcanoes on Iceland in order to examine how the ice sheet thickness has varied over the past few million years. The approach is to use a combination of the morphology of Icelandic sub-glacial volcanoes to estimate the ice thickness at the time of their extrusion, and high-precision age determinations enabling the variation of ice thickness with time to be studied. This approach provides a proxy of past ice sheet thickness and is of considerable value for modeling the rate of growth and decay of land-based ice sheets, particularly if the ages of the volcanic rocks can be obtained are sufficiently precise to allow fine-scale correlation with the temperature oxygen isotope stages. The work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Dave McGarvie, at the Open University, UK.

Figure 2: The different noble gas sources in a geological CO2 storage site.

Geological storage of CO2
Noble gas isotopes are key tracers of fluid and gas transport and interaction in the earth’s crust (Figure 2). Geological storage of CO2 in requires  understanding and monitoring of losses either by leakage, or through interaction with fluids and rocks. Noble gases are inert and are powerful tracers used to fingerprint sources and interactions in a chemically and physically active system, and as such are able to retain a permanent isotopic record of these events. At Manchester we are using noble gases  to assess the long-term stability and effectiveness of natural geological traps for CO2 storage.

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