Adam Carter

My name is Adam Carter and I graduated from Leeds in 2001, in BSc Geological Sciences. I got a lot out of studying in the Earth Sciences Department, and really enjoyed my time there. The courses were varied and interesting, and I developed an interest in Palaeo-climates and Volcanology. The field trips (Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cyprus ) were a lot of fun feel that you learn so much more when you see natural examples. My dissertation was on field mapping on Skye in northwest Scotland , supervised by Dr Jane Francis. I learnt above all how to map in horizontal rain, and how to avoid clouds of midges! Joking aside, we had a great time working in Scotland.

I wanted to do a Masters specifically in Volcanology, but couldn’t find a program that did this in the UK at that time. Dr Jurgen Neuberg suggested I go to France and study at Clermont-Ferrand, but asked me “how is your French?” I said “terrible!” but after being accepted on to the program I decided to give it a go. I spent over a year living and studying in France, and gained a DEA diploma (French MSc) in volcanic and magmatic processes. We visited Vesuvius, Lipari, Vulcano and watched lava bombs fly from Stromboli at night. My field site was Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, where I spent 2 months in 2003. Reunion is a beautiful tropical island, and I mapped the fracture network and took aerial photos to form an open-window plane to construct Digital Elevation Models (DEM), in conjunction with the local Volcano Observatory.   I also learnt to speak French fluently, which I find is very useful.

After my DEA I worked to save some money and spent 2 weeks as a volunteer using GPS and levelling surveys on Mount Etna, Sicily. I also travelled to Mexico to work at the Colima Volcano Observatory, where I learnt to use COSPEC (sulphur dioxide monitoring), thermal detectors, water sampling and impact crater measurements.

I’m currently studying at the University of Pittsburgh, the USA for a PhD in Remote Sensing and Volcanology with Professor Mike Ramsey. My primary focus is using thermal infrared (TIR) ASTER data on Kamchatkan volcanoes in Russia. This project is funded by a NASA grant and links with work on Aleutian volcanoes from Alaska Volcano Observatory. I’m also a teaching assistant for a Natural Disasters undergraduate course now, which is a good experience and boosts my funding.

This year I co-wrote a grant proposal and won a small grant for $2000, which will go towards field and travel expenses in 2005. We plan on re-visiting Bezymianny volcano and will be doing a new project looking at pyroclastic deposits on Shiveluch volcano. Our group also studies Mount Saint Helens and had an article published in the Pittsburgh City paper about current activity.   We also recently attended a conference and workshop in Argentina and Chile and got to the summit of Villarrica volcano (see photo).

I hope to continue in research after my PhD, perhaps as a Post-Doc somewhere if possible or in an observatory. Competition is fierce, so I would like to remain employable too-I’m learning a lot more GIS, programming and Remote Sensing now which are all extensively used by industry and regional authorities. Leeds was a great choice for strong fieldwork and presentation skills and opened the possibility of working in the industry for many students, or research for others.