Alexander Steele

Alexander Steele

Profile Display Name:

Alexander Steele

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Start Year

2014 (Cohort 1)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:

PhD Project
PhD Title

Forecasting Unrest and Eruption at Large Volcanic Calderas

Research Theme

Natural and Biological Hazards

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Large calderas are some of the most dangerous and populated active volcanoes on Earth. Episodes of caldera unrest are characterised by extensive ground uplift and volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes. Episodes last for ~0.1-2 years and may recur numerous times over ~10-100 years before triggering an eruption. An outstanding question is whether non-eruptive episodes are independent events that each have a similar potential to trigger an eruption or are components of a longer-term trend that will only trigger an eruption once a critical threshold in the crust has been reached. In order to respond effectively to caldera unrest, resolving this question is vital. Unrest is governed by the evolution of the shallow magmatic system beneath calderas. Understanding how magma is stored and transported in the crust is therefore crucial for enhancing the reliability of eruption forecasts. Using precursory data from the Campi Flegrei caldera (Italy), referenced against test data from other volcanoes, a new physical model of elastic-brittle deformation will be combined with numerical modelling (1) to quantify the eruption potential in terms of caldera deformation and VT seismicity, and (2) to investigate the evolution of stress fields around sills and how these determine critical levels of unrest and preferred eruption locations.

Policy Impact
Background Reading
News & Blogs

Volcanic crisis in Ecuador: Forecasting the behaviour of Cotopaxi, UCL/ Birkbeck Institute of Earth and Planetary Sciences (IEPS) Newsletter (No. 5; December 2015)

Conferences and Workshops
  • Conference. Talk: Forecasting volcanic eruptions: the narrow margin between eruption and intrusion.
  • Sedgwick Club conference (March 2016). Talk: Evolutionary dynamics of a restless caldera: Campi Flegrei, Southern Italy.
  • UCL Department of Earth Sciences PGR Seminar (July 2016). Talk: Forecasting unrest and eruption at large volcanic calderas.
  • European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2016 (March 2016). Talk: Forecasting volcanic eruptions: the narrow margin between eruption and intrusion.
  • IAVCEI Cities on Volcanoes (COV) 9 Conference (November 2016). Poster: Pre-eruptive unrest at Campi Flegrei Caldera, Southern Italy.
  • TSG-VMSG-BGA Conference 2017, (January 2017). Poster: Pre-eruptive unrest at Campi Flegrei Caldera, Southern Italy.
Training courses
  • Numerical Modelling in Earth Sciences Training Course, hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL). February 2016
  • Arena One: Gateway (Teacher Training) Training Course, hosted by UCL. September 2016
  • Research Integrity Training Course, hosted by UCL. June 2016
  • COMSOL workshop, hosted by COMSOL. March 2017
  • COMSOL webinars, hosted by COMSOL.

Social Links
University Departmental Website:

Personal Website:




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