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GEMOC ARC National Key Centre

James Cowlyn

Postgraduate Student


Contact Details

Office : E5B 214
Phone : 61-(0)2-9850 4406
Fax : 61-(0)2-9850 6904

James Cowlyn
GEMOC ARC National Key Centre
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Room 214, Building E5B
Macquarie University NSW 2109

Fiona Foley


BSc (Hons) Envoronmental Science, University East Anglia, UK (1 year at University of Colorado at Boulder, USA)


Research Interests

My PhD research focuses on volcanism at Fonualei Volcano in Tonga. Fonualei is unique in that it erupts extremely silicic lavas for its intra-oceanic setting, which makes it ideal for investigating the genesis of evolved 'continental' crust at island arcs. The project aims to characterise the generation and evolution of the Fonualei magmas from source through to the erupted products, through a combination of geochemical and experimental studies.

Silicic magmas are high viscosity, with direct effects on eruptive styles and lava flow morphology. At Fonualei, a wide variety of eruptive styles and lava flow morphologies are apparent. Direct measurement of lava viscosity through high temperature and pressure experiments at the state-of-the-art facility at the University of Munich will provide a unique opportunity to test the relationships between viscosity and the observed flow morphologies at Fonualei.

Previous Experience

Prior to my Phd, I gained work experience at several volcano observatories around the world to gain first-hand experience on active volcanoes. These include:

2002       Pacaya, Santiaguito (Santa Maria) Volcanoes in Guatemala; demonstrating the use of Real-Time Kinematic GPS surveys for rapid characterisation of volcanic landscapes for use in hazards studies (as part of my honours thesis).

2002       Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat.

2006       Seismic Research Unit at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad; installing and monitoring a high-precision GPS network for monitoring volcanic ground deformation at Nevis and St. Kitts.

2006       Volcan Colima, Mexico; monitoring Colima Volcano, including seismic analysis, COSPEC, and thermal imaging.

2006       Instituto Geophysico, Ecuador; monitoring Volcan Tunguahua during a serious eruptive crisis, particularly responsible for mini-DOAS measurement of daily SO2 fluxes.  Maintenance of telemetry and GPS stations at Guaga Pichincha and Cotopaxi volcanoes.

2006       Rabaul Volcano Observatory, Papua New Guinea; responsible for logging of deposits from the October 2006 sub-plinian eruption of Tavurvur Volcano, including airfall and tsunami deposits.



Steve J. Saunders, Herman Patia, Felix Taranu, Jonathon Kuduon, James Cowlyn, Yuichi Nishimura, 1997. How To Deal With Unpredictable Volcanoes In A Developing Country, Cities on Volcanoes 5.

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