Climate & Environment

AXA Chairs

United Kingdom

Navigating Volcanic Risk: Understanding Transitions and Vulnerability

While volcanic eruptions are unavoidable, the resulting damages to lives, livelihoods and sustainable paths forward  can be mitigated.. Professor Jenni Barclay's research within the AXA Chair in Volcanology focuses on the reduction of risk and the prevention of disaster in volcanic settings. It emphasizes the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of volcanic risk, which is deeply intertwined with social, political, and cultural landscapes. Prof. Barclay aims to enhance the fundamental physical understanding of volcanic processes and to conduct interdisciplinary research into the core drivers of disaster loss, particularly in marginalized populations. 

In the first aspect of the research, she will address the understanding of eruptive transitions. It will highlight the importance of comprehending the drivers of eruptive transitions on timescales relevant to warnings. The approach involves advanced instrumental and theoretical methods to examine erupted rocks and their properties, such as crystals, glass, and textures, in order to reconstruct changes in magmatic intensive properties before, during, and after transitions. The research plans to leverage historical records of eruptions to link characteristics of samples to observed events and to characterize macroscopic and microscopic textures. A specific focus will be on volcanism in the Eastern Caribbean, collaborating with local researchers to model and anticipate the key drivers of changing eruptive style using these data. 

In the context of global environmental change, Prof. Barclay emphasizes the role of volcanoes as multi-hazard creators that generate systemic vulnerabilities and risks. She advocates for a deeper understanding of volcanic vulnerability by describing the root drivers of risk creation and promoting positive volcanic "risk cultures". This involves embedding preparedness and response to volcanic activity into everyday planning and choices, as well as collaborating with at-risk communities to integrate a wide range of knowledge into risk analysis, appropriate to the spatial and temporal scale of the analysis. 

Overall, the research of the AXA Chair led by Prof. Barclay's endeavours to not only better understand volcanic risk and vulnerability but also to uncover practical ways to improve how communities can enhance hazard preparedness. 

The AXA Chair in Volcanology at University of Bristol was previously led by Prof. Katharine Cashman. 




University of Bristol


United Kingdom



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