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Physical modelling PhD Project, Marsden Fund of the Royal Society, New Zealand
Volcanoes can make waves too: a new understanding of tsunamis generated by volcanic eruptions
About this PhD Project

Project Description
This project is one of two PhD studentships funded by the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Te Apārangi. The project is a collaboration between the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), GNS Science, The University of Auckland, The University of Otago, and also has input from international researchers at Université Pierre et Marie Curie and the University of Athens. The Marsden Fund supports excellence in science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities in New Zealand by providing grants for investigator-initiated research. For more details about the Marsden Fund, see https://royalsociety.org.nz/what-we-do/funds-and-opportunities/marsden

The tsunamis generated by the 1883 eruption of Krakatau killed more than 36,000 people up to 800 kilometres from the crater. Although neither as common, nor as powerful, as earthquake-generated tsunamis, volcanic tsunamis cause destruction much further away than the actual eruption - tsunamis have caused 25% of all deaths during historical volcanic eruptions. Yet we still only have a basic understanding of the processes involved. Discrete explosions, growth and pulsation of erupting columns and pyroclastic flows can all displace water and cause tsunamis. What factors are most important in determining the size of the tsunami an eruption causes? How do the substances involved (gases, liquids and particles) interact: their rheologies, temperatures and phases?

Project aims and methods
The main aim of the project is to use physical modelling to determine key elements of the fascinating processes involved in volcanoes creating tsunamis. Specifically, the project involves:
·Developing experimental methods to simulate submarine eruptions and hot flows entering the water;
·Applying novel measurement techniques to measure the source properties and the generated wave field;
·Using the experimental measurements to validate the predictions of a state-of-the-art numerical model of the multi-phase and granular flows responsible for tsunami generation;

This project will be done in tandem with a second PhD which will use numerical modelling study aspects of volcanoes generating tsunamis. The project will involve travel within New Zealand to liaise with the project partners, as well as international travel to the laboratory at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie.

Funding notes
The project is funded for three years, and includes full payment of fees plus a stipend of $31,429 NZD per annum. Travel costs for project meetings and attendance at international conferences are also provided in the project funding.

This project would suit a candidate with a strong background in fluid dynamics, particularly in the design and execution of physical experiments to investigate complex flow phenomena. Experience with flow visualisation techniques would be beneficial, as would a background in computational fluid dynamics. An interest in earth sciences and thermodynamics would also be advantageous. Some of the required skills for the project are listed below:

·Analytical skills: Able to analyse results of experiments and (in collaboration with other researchers) use this to develop deeper understanding of processes.
·Self-motivated: Takes initiative and able to work with minimal supervision.
·Lateral thinking/Creativity: Able to develop new ideas and methodologies.
·Communication skills:

o Written – able to express themselves clearly in manuscript format.
o Collegial – able to interact with other scientists in complementary fields to discuss ideas and develop new research.
o Presentation skills – able to put together and deliver interesting and informative presentations on their research.

For an informal discussion about the position please contact Dr Colin Whittaker, Lecturer in Civil Engineering Hydraulics at The University of Auckland by email c.whittaker@auckland.ac.nz or telephone +64 9 923 7268.
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