Volcanic eruptions cause large human, environmental and economic losses and leave deep marks in our collective cultural memory.
Scottish physicist and volcanologist Dr. Andrew McGonigle, based at the University of Sheffield in England, has been working for two decades on gaining new insights into how volcanoes work and finding ways to improve the odds of forecasting eruptions.
A Laureate of the 2008 Rolex Awards, Dr. McGonigle is developing innovative remote sensing techniques to monitor volcanic plumes for telltale indicators of underground volcanic activity. By deploying small unmanned helicopters, digital cameras and ultraviolet spectrometers on more than 30 volcanoes in Italy, Nicaragua, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea, he measures the gases they release to the atmosphere -- an eruption’s main messengers. Sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide, for example, are bubbling out of the molten rock as the pressure that imprisons them drops.
Andrew McGonigle will talk about his work that combines remote sensing, physics, ingenuity, and sheer scientific adventure to update volcanology for the 21st century as well as his cutting edge research on developing sensors for NASA’s lunar science program. He will exchange with a Nobel Laureate on the challenges scientists meet in difficult environments and on how science can help us predict an ever-changing, and warming, world.
- John C. Mather, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, United States of America
- Andrew McGonigle, The University of Sheffield, Department of Geography, United Kingdom
- Francesco Raeli, Rolex SA