Dr Claire Harnett, Funded Investigator at iCRAG and Assistant Professor at UCD School of Earth Sciences, has been awarded an ERC Synergy Grant.
Awarded to 37 research teams across Europe, the ERC Synergy grants support ambitious researchers to join forces and pool different skills, knowledge and resources to push the frontiers of our knowledge and address some of the world’s most formidable problems.
Dr Harnett specialises in numerical modelling of volcanic environments. She will work with fellow ‘ROTTnROCK’ project team members from Germany, Sweden and France to advance knowledge of volcanic processes that could ultimately help to predict and mitigate the hazards of unexpected eruptions and avert many tragedies worldwide.
More than 10% of the world’s population are at risk to the direct impacts of volcanic eruptions. Volcano monitoring aims to detect and correctly interpret volcanic hazards and to provide early and accurate warnings of impending eruptions. Yet, despite technical and scientific advances, volcanoes still produce unexpected explosive eruptions or sudden flank collapses.
Each year, such unpredictable events result in volcanic disasters that devastate unprepared communities and destroy unprotected infrastructures. Previous work by the PIs indicates that volcanic hazards are caused by hydrothermal alteration, which progressively and imperceptibly changes the chemical and physical state of rocks inside a volcano, creating a soft and unstable (or “rotten”) interior. However, the link between “soft” volcanoes and unpredictable volcanic events remains enigmatic. The ROTTnROCK project aims to achieve a ground-breaking advance in our understanding of hydrothermal alteration processes that act inside active volcanic systems.
This project will revolutionise our understanding of hydrothermal alteration and its effects on volcano hazards, and pave the way for strategies to forecast and mitigate unexpected volcanic events caused by hydrothermal alteration and circumvent disasters at volcanoes worldwide.
PI for Ireland, Dr Claire Harnett said: “We are really excited to get started on this project, which builds on our growing momentum to understand currently unforeseen volcanic hazards. One of the exciting aspects about the Synergy award is the capacity to build expert teams that will integrate information across four key disciplines (rock physics, geochemistry, remote sensing, and computational modelling) to provide a step-change in our knowledge around volcanic eruptions that are driven by processes other than magma ascent. I would like to thank the Ad Astra Fellow programme and Enterprise Ireland for their support.”
The ERC Synergy Grant scheme is part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe. Applicants submitted 395 proposals in this call. The 37 winning projects involve 135 researchers who will carry out their projects at 114 universities and research centres in 19 countries across Europe and beyond.
For more on ROTTnROCK visit the ERC website.