The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Devin Harrison
Devin Harrison

Project Title
Sedimentary architecture of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanogenic jökulhlaups: Gígjökull, Iceland

Description of Research Project
A warming global climate has implications for glacial retreat and meltwater generation. The potential frequency and magnitude of jӧkulhlaup (glacial outburst flood) hazards from ice-dammed and moraine-dammed lakes may be increased by: (i) increased glacial meltwater production; and (ii) the glacio-isostatic response of the mantle driven by deglaciation, which is hypothesised to increase volcanic activity.

The high peak-discharges of volcanically-induced jӧkulhlaups in Iceland have the ability to deposit significant volumes of sediment, causing major geomorphic change and societal impacts (including loss of life and damage to infrastructure). An increase in tourist numbers to Iceland and other glciated regions further amplifies the risks associated to jökulhlaups. Quantifying the sub-surface sediment structures and geomorphological processes associated to jökulhlaups is vital in the prediction and evaluation future jökulhlaup behaviour and impacts. Furthermore, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) have outlined that the study of ice-deposits associated to jökulhlaups is required to identify regions of high damage potential.

The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption produced multiple jӧkulhlaups which deposited ~17.12 x 10^6 m^3 of sediment into the Gígjökull basin, infilling the Gígjökulslón (proglacial lake) with up to 60 m of material. Although post-jӧkulhlaup topographic surveys have quantified the scale of landscape response and recovery, to date the sedimentary architecture of the jӧkulhlaup deposits remain to be investigated.

Using geodetic (differential GPS) and geophysical (Ground Penetrating Radar) techniques this study aims to: (1) test conceptual models of jӧkulhlaup deposition; and (2) evaluate the role of ice on post-jӧkulhlaup landscape response and recovery.

The outcomes of this work will improve understanding of the fluvial processes associated with multiple high magni! tude flo od events and their relation to the hydraulic properties and rheology. This work will also provide key information regarding sub-surface properties of jökulhlaup deposits and the rates of surface change as buried ice melts out of these sediments. The sedimentary products of the Eyjafjallajökull jökulhlaups will provide process-insight into quaternary megafloods (e.g. outburst floods from the Laurentide ice-sheet), and megafloods on other planets (e.g. Mars).

GEO1005 - Environmental Issues
GEO1020 - Introduction to Physical Geography

GEO2137 - Key Methods for Physical Geographers
GEO2135 - Rivers

GEO3075 - Glacial Meltwater Processes and Products
GEO3144 - Landslides from Pole to Pole

Qualifications and Achievements
BSc Physical Geography (FH82), Newcastle University

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