Student research reports

For each of our ongoing research projects with our collaborating researchers, the students or interns involved are asked to produce a report summarising the background, methods, and results of the research project. They are also encouraged to interpret and discuss the results and give their own conclusions on the findings of the project, supported by the researcher. This both develops numerous skills in the interns and also provides the collaborating researcher with a comprehensive summary which they can use to inform studies in future years.

Below is a selection of reports produced by our students and interns. Because many of these are ongoing research projects, with findings hoping to be published in future in academic articles, the results have been removed from these reports on the projects. Where allowed, findings from these studies are available free and open access on our open data page.

If you are interested further in any of these research projects, or would like to set up your own research project with us, please let us know by getting in touch with us at

More Research Coming soon!

The La Palma Project GeoIntern Research Reports

Drone surveys of the 2021 La Palma eruption products – with Fernando Borràs Castelló (Drones for Geology, Spain)

Written by Jacob Nash, University of Bristol


On 19/09/2021 a basaltic fissure eruption began at Tajogaite Volcano located on the Cumbre Vieja Ridge, following a series of seismic swarms recorded since 2017. Lava flows travelled west up to 6.5 km to the shore and continued 1.1 km into the sea forming a lava delta. Six zones of interest within the lava flows were identified for the aerial surveys. The aim was to investigate the zones of interest surrounding the 2021 lava flows/deltas and the 1949 lava deltas to identify geomorphological and ecological changes using drone technology. Aerial flights were performed at all six zones of interest using the DGI Maverick 2Pro Drone and two flights were undertaken to photograph the underwater sections of the 2021 lava deltas using the FIFISH V6 drone. Photos taken during the aerial surveys were analysed using DCIM PIX4D. DPC models and DEMs of the northern and southern 2021 Lava slopes and deltas and the main Tajogaite cone were developed. For future aerial surveys, we recommend focused flights on individual structures within the lava flows, specifically structures that may change over short periods e.g. levees.

Science Communication on La Palma – A GeoIntern’s experience

Written by Divas Parashar


Personally, it was a humbling experience for me to be able to talk to residents and hear their stories about the eruption and everything that has happened as a result of it. They spoke to us about the problems they are facing, ranging from uncertainty and confusion regarding the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, the unavailability of the promised help from the local government and the slow progress in everything. We also realized that there exists a strong fear amongst the residents that the volcano might reactivate and cause more damage in the coming weeks or months. This speaks volumes about the lack of proper scientific communication by the scientists and officials. Many of their lives have changed forever after the eruption, but there exists hope for a better future.

Weathering and bio-availability of basaltic lavas on La Palma – with Dr David Foster (University of Florida, USA)

Written by Ajay Wynne Jones and Kelsey Hewett


To understand the processes that are the most important for making volcanic material bioavailable and thus how volcanic rocks may have affected the evolution of early life we collected samples of lava flows across many ages. The permit gathered for this project allowed 6 sample locations. The locations selected from the permit are representative of mid and low altitudes of the 2021, 1949 and 1585 lava flows. Samples were collected from the centre of the flows and only at the surface. This was done to reduce any possible contamination from the lava flow margins. the method for collecting samples included filling out a table indicating the date of collection, lava flow age, sample name (e.g. GT-LP-21.1), sample type (rock or tephra), location using UTM, and elevation with any error if given. Future research for La Palma includes trying to get a permit approved for other lava flows, including the 1430 lava flow just north of the 2021 flow, the 1712 lava flow south of 1585, and the 1971 and 1677 flows at the southernmost portion of the island.

La Palma reactivation simulation – with Jaime Coello and Alvaro Márquez González (Complutense University Madrid, Spain)

Written by Anabel Pozniak and Gemechu Bedassa


This report aims to assess the risk of an imminent effusive eruption in La Palma within the Cumbre Vieja Natural Park if seismic trends continue to occur in this region. The Cumbre Vieja is an active 25-km-long volcanic ridge on the southern flank of the island La Palma in the Canary Islands, there are approximately 67,839 people who live on either side of the ridge and therefore are vulnerable to volcanic eruptions. In this work, seismic data recorded across the last 90 days across La Palma by the Instituto Geográfico Nacional, seismic data recorded before the 2021 Tajogaite eruption, and the location of the historic vent, and hydromagmatic eruption locations were used to predict the future eruption to occur in the southern volcanic domain of the Island. Our model predicts the eruption is most likely to occur to the NW of Lavas la Malforda on the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja ridge. The eruption will likely be a strombolian magmatic eruption, with a 57% chance of also being Hawaiian. If an eruption was likely to occur, it is 100% likely to have expansive lava flows, tephra/ash falls and toxic gases. This eruption has the potential to impact the villages of El Remo and El Charco, many banana plantations, and the LP-2 and LP-210 roads. 

Vegetation surveys on La Palma – with Dr Katy Chamberlain (Teesside University, UK)

Written by Sofia Della Sala and Brannock Hackett


It is important to understand how various types of vegetation may colonise lava flows and over what timescales, to be able to monitor the development of vegetation on lava flows. In this study, the vegetation of lava flows was investigated for lava flows of different ages on the Canary Island of La Palma. The amount and maturity of vegetation of lava flows from eruptions in 1677, 1949, and 1971 were studied. Quadrants of 1 x 1 m were chosen at random, and the features of the rocks as well as the presence of any vegetation were recorded. Lichen colonisation and diversity increased with the age of the lava flows, however, even the older lava flows lacked more complex vegetation.

The Volcanic Readiness Project GeoIntern Research Reports

Volcanic resilience and preparedness on the island of Tenerife

Alec Phipps-Wirtz [1], Faith Bowater [2], Holly Shipp [3], Noah Gompertz [4], Rahma Hassan [5], and Samuel Swale [6]

1 University of Utah2 University of Plymouth3 Edge Hill University, 4 Coventry University5 University of Birmingham6 Bangor University.


Tenerife is the largest of the volcanic islands that make up an archipelago off the coast of North West Africa. It is volcanically active, with a historical record of basaltic fissure eruptions that occur along its rift zones, as well as more explosive sub-Plinian eruptions from the central Teide-Pico Viejo Complex. Tenerife’s PAIV – The Island Action Plan Against Volcanic Risk – identifies the areas of ​​greatest threat are the Abeque Ridge, the Icod-Garachico Valley, and Santiago del Teide-Guía de Isora and that 60,000 people live in areas with a high or very high “volcanic threat” in Tenerife. Thus, it is of great importance that the residents of Tenerife are prepared for volcanic eruption and resilient to the effects of volcanic activity. The preparedness and resilience of the island to volcanic hazards were assessed and were found to be insufficient; The island and the local people are heavily dependent on tourism for economic growth, and a lack of education regarding Tenerife’s volcanic risk was reflected in the responses to the surveys carried out, information is not communicated effectively, and existing resources are not accessible. The following recommendations were made to reduce vulnerability: creating education programmes to increase hazard awareness and preparedness, diversification of the economy to ensure sustainable development and to reduce economic impacts of the eruption, and improvements in risk communication and accessibility of resources. Municipalities in the North and North West should be prioritised since they are most at risk. 

Volcanic public preparedness surveys – with Dr Catalina Arguello (Universidad Internacional de La Rioja)

Written by Megan Pelly, Ella Richmond, and Lucy Benniston


The Canary Islands are a group of volcanic ocean islands formed by intraplate volcanism and are classified within the top 20 countries/territories for proportional volcanic threat. With the increasing population and tourism in the Canary Islands, the risks associated with these events are increasing. Understanding the awareness and attitudes of the general public towards volcanic events can be of significant importance in developing effective disaster risk reduction and management plans. Preparation and Resistance to Volcanic Eruption surveys were prepared by Catalina Argüello-Gutiérrez of the Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, Spain as part of the research project: PREVIA (Preparation and Resistance to Eruptions of Volcanoes in Ibero-America). Surveys were distributed by students and staff of GeoTenerife on the Islands of Tenerife and La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain. We found that in general, participants from La Palma perceived the risk of either a volcanic eruption or earthquakes affecting their community as ‘Very likely’ compared to participants in Tenerife, likely due to their recent experience with these hazards in the 2021 eruption. The next steps in future research should survey people, from other islands, more age groups and a wider range of socio-economic backgrounds to analyse relationships between the island of origin and educational level to their perception of volcanic risk.

The Sustainable Tourism Project GeoIntern Research Reports

“Sustainable Tourism”, Report at Puertito de Adeje


1 Universidad de La Laguna2 University of Bristol3 Royal Holloway University of London, 4 University of Hull5 The University of California, Davis6 Universidad de Granada, 7 University of Liverpool, 8 Nottingham Trent University, 9 University of Aberdeen


Puertito de Adeje (El Puertito) is a small coastal village in the south of Tenerife. Cuna del Alma is the proposed establishment to be developed in this area, a proposed ‘eco-resort’ promoting ‘sustainable tourism’. They supposedly pride themselves on ‘protecting the marine life’ and are ‘passionate about the landscape’. The purpose of this research was to analyse the area, including its geology and vegetation, to identify if this area is, or is not, worth protecting. Through extensive data collection, the conclusion which was drawn from Puertito de Adeje is of significant interest to scientists, for several reasons. This area must be protected and preserved, and the Cuna del Alma development does not go ahead. If this development is approved to go ahead, not only will the beauty and exceptional nature be destroyed, but Tenerife as a whole will be forced to face the consequences, on the already overpopulated southern part of the island. 

Geology of the Canary Islands GeoIntern Research Reports

The Pumice Stratigraphy of the Bandas Del Sur, Southeast Tenerife

Dr Richard Brown [1],  Alexis Schwartz [2],  Lili Csada [3], Kirsten Wong [4],  Ethan Hamilton [5],  Joseph LeFebvre [6], Anthony Kavalam [7], Grant Spraker [8], and Pat Buppanimitr [9]

1 Durham University, 2 GeoTenerife Ltd, 3 Cambridge University/University of Szeged, 4 Durham University, 5 Northumbria University, 6 Edge Hill University, 7 University of St Andrews, 8 College of Charleston, 9 Lancaster University 


Following the precedent of previous research, pumice fall deposits were located and analysed in the Bandas del Sur region of Tenerife. This was done to understand the eruptive frequency and distribution of the Las Cañadas Caldera. 11 named pumice fall deposits were identified over two distinct sequences, via the creation of a fingerprint of each distinguishable member. These are: ‘Pink Stripe’, ‘Coroco’, ‘La Piña’, ‘Cactus’, ‘Las Eras’, ‘Rómpelo’, ‘Las Vigas’, ‘Dog Biscuit’, ‘Las Vegas’, ‘Mena’, and ‘Blanquitos’. The identification process involved analysis using a series of qualitative and quantitative methods ranging from maximum and average thickness (m), maximum and average grain size (cm), grain gradation, grain sorting, matrix type, pumice colour, pumice clasts >5cm, internal stratification and bedding, lithics, oxides and bands within rocks, maximum lithic clast size (cm), mineral presence and composition, and lithic abundance. Using these methods, a total of 25 pumice deposits were analysed, many unnamed or too reworked to accurately record their characteristics. Correlation of previous studies into the stratigraphic record of the Las Cañadas Caldera was completed, leading to the potential discovery that two previously identified members, ‘Las Eras’ and ‘Moradas’, could be the same layer. This has implications for the estimation of the eruptive distribution and frequency of the island.

Investigating the efficiency of Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzers for petrological analysis of mafic volcanic rocks: A case study in La Palma, Canary Islands.

Lauren Anderson [1], Chung Yan Fu [2], Eva Louise Petermann [3], Alejandro Rebolledo [4], Elena G. Sanborn [5], Emily A. Shiver [6], Indie Talbot [7]

1 University of Aberdeen, 2 Imperial College London, 3 Oxford Brookes University, 4 Department of Geology, Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Universidad de Chile, 5 University of St. Andrews, 6 Department of Geology, Cal Poly Humboldt, 7 St. Lawrence University


Portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) has been increasingly deployed for field geochemical analyses, especially in the mining and environmental industries. Its ability to make real-time measurements in the field makes this technique well-suited for university pedagogical purposes. This study aims to develop in-field procedures for analysing volcanic rocks to rapidly acquire high precision and high accuracy geochemical data for petrological interpretations. Basaltic lavas from the 2021 La Palma eruption were investigated using pXRF to determine its effectiveness in measuring different elements for petrological interpretations. Thirty-nine measurements were taken in situ at 12 sites for chemical analysis of their major, minor, and trace elements. The following trace elements with narrow concentration ranges proved to be the most useful due to their high incompatibility and immobile nature: Zr (207-346 ppm), Nb (51-91 ppm) and Y (22-33.89 ppm). Major elements like SiO2 (10.47-58.45 wt%) and MgO (2.17-11.68 wt%) show a wide range of concentrations, while Ti (1.63- 3.93 wt%) gives a much more concise range. Based on trace element concentrations, the lavas were classified as alkali basalt that exhibits characteristics associated with within-plate ocean island basalts. Some major elements measured by the pXRF (e.g., Fe, Mg, and Al) were scattered compared to data published by Day et al. (2022), showing that pXRF does not accurately measure these elements. Other heavier major elements (e.g., Ti, P and Mn) can be utilised reliably. Concentrations of immobile trace elements are relatively unaffected by secondary processes; therefore, they are an accurate and reliable alternative method to constrain composition when major elements are unavailable due to alteration. The high precision and accuracy of pXRF make it an invaluable tool for geologists to collect field geochemical data for petrological interpretations of volcanic rocks.

Micro-Seismic Survey of the Cuevas del Viento Lava Tube – with Dr Pablo Gonzalez (Spanish National Research Council – CSIC)

Written by Megan Campbell, Becca Tanner, Charlie Jackson and Rebeka Bacova


A microseismic survey was conducted at the Cuevas del Viento lava tube in the Icod valley in Northern Tenerife. The survey was implemented by Group A GeoInterns 2022 who designed the experimental layout and procedure. The survey was conducted over two days to explore whether microseismicity can be a useful tool in identifying shallow subsurface features, such as lava tubes, which are abundant in the Icod valley. The results were obtained and processed by Pablo Gonzalez a local scientist overseeing out survey and we analysed the possible results. The results sound small anomalies across the transect but not anything of extreme significance. A similar study of lava tubes at Mt Etna (Muniruzzaman, 1978) found small peaks at similar values so we hypothesise that we detected the topsoil layer rather than any notable subsurface feature. In future, longer time should be spent both completing the survey and in collection time, to see if this yield more significant results.

Closing the gaps in Las Cañadas eruptive history (II): Pumice fall deposit stratigraphy 

Written by Federico Pingitore, Gregor Melville, Kez Page, Louis-Alexandre Lobanov and Molly Maenner


The overall aim of this research is to identify and categorise the gaps in the onshore eruptive history of the ancient Las Cañadas caldera. The caldera has been responsible for around 40 probable Plinian eruptions in the past 1.8 Ma, with ~18 of these being associated with widespread pyroclastic density currents. The apparent average timeframe of each eruptive event appears to be around 40 Ka. The frequency and true number of Plinian and sub-Plinian eruptions on the island are important to establish as it reflects the likelihood of Tenerife experiencing an eruption of this scale in the future. Around 200 small mass samples were collected for each pumice horizon, with lithic clasts or obsidian fragments being collected separately from any layers which contained them. The pumice mass and lithic samples were then bagged and labelled in the field. Upon returning to GeoTenerife HQ, the pumice samples were washed and sorted into grain sizes. Given that 24 distinct eruption events have been identified so far, it can perhaps be assumed that the Las Cañadas volcano erupted more frequently than what was previously believed.