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David Pyle

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Volcanologist

David Pyle was first captivated by volcanoes at the age of seven, while sitting on the freshly erupted deposits of Villarica volcano in Chile. At university, David studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge. He first specialised in geology and later, for his PhD, in volcanology.

After completing research fellowships at Cambridge and the California Institute of Technology, David returned to Cambridge as a lecturer. He moved to Oxford in 2006, where he is now Professor of Earth Sciences and a Tutorial Fellow at St Anne's College.

David started his research career studying the ancient deposits of Santorini volcano, Greece, where he developed new methods for measuring the size of past eruptions. His work has subsequently taken him to four continents to work on live and extinct volcanoes. More recently, most of his work has focussed on improving our knowledge of past eruptions and of patterns of volcanic activity. The aim is to use this information to help understand what might happen in the future at young or active volcanoes. In 2003, David had a chance to return to Villarica on a research visit. He is currently working on active volcanoes in Chile, Ethiopia and Greece.

David has been involved in science outreach for some years. In 2011, he was a zone winner in the "I'm a scientist get me out of here" competition, which he described as a “two week immersion in the excitement of science”. You can see his 2011 Oxford Christmas Science lecture here: http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/hot-stuff-how-volcanoes-work-video.

Wednesday 2nd May 2018, 10.02am

Why does it always rain (ash) on me?

On May 1st, 1812, a remarkable weather system reached Barbados. 'At half-past twelve AM a heavy dark cloud obscured the heavens completely. [..]  at half past one a sandy grit began to fall in small quantities'. Through the night there was the sound of explosions and thunder, and by late afternoon, Barbados had been blanketed in several centimetres depth of ash.

Thursday 14th Dec 2017, 12.35am

Lahar: Lost in translation?

Since late September, the eyes of the volcano world have turned to Gunung Agung. This prominent volcano in Bali last erupted in 1963, when it released enough sulphur dioxide to form a global stratospheric sulphate aerosol layer that led to vivid sunsets, and short-term...

Tuesday 8th Nov 2016, 03.00pm

Flooding the Santorini Caldera

The flooded caldera of Santorini volcano holds many secrets, buried beneath the ash and pumice of its last great eruption.