Dr Irene Manzella

Dr Irene Manzella

Lecturer in Engineering Geology and Geohazards

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Lecturer in Engineering Geology and Geohazards

Geo-Environmental Science Research Leader for the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab project 

Faculty of Science and Engineering mid-career staff representative at the University Research and Innovation Committee


Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (with Distinction). University of Plymouth.

Ph.D. (2008), Rock Mechanics Laboratory, Civil Engineering Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Institute of Technology), Switzerland.

Master of advanced study (2002) in Settlements upgrading for cooperation and development, Politecnico di Milano (Italian Institute of Technology), Faculty of Architecture.

M.Sc. and B.Sc. (2001, old Italian 5 years degree), Environmental and Territorial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano (Italian Institute of Technology) . Major: ‘Difesa del suolo’, i.e. hydro-geological engineering, rock, soil and fluid mechanics with application to geohazards.

Previous Appointments

Université de Genève: Geneva, Switzerland, Department of Earth Sciences. Maître-Assistante/ Senior Research and Teaching Associate(2012-2017)

Geological Survey of Norway, NGU, Trondheim. Visiting Researcher (October 2016).

Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans (Clermont-Ferrand, France). Visiting Researcher (August-September 2015)

Université de Genève: Geneva, Switzerland, Department of Earth Sciences. Post-doc (2009-2011)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Cambridge, MA, United States, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Visiting researcher (august 2010) and Postdoctoral fellow (July-December 2008)

Professional membership

Fellow of the Geological Society of London

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Member of the International Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment (IAEG)

Member of the IAVCEI International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior

Roles on external bodies

Chair of the South West Group of the Geological Society of London  

Member of the NERC Peer Review College (PRC)

University Representative of the UK Alliance for Disaster Research (UKADR)

Participants to the AURORA programme 2019  

Teaching interests

My experience and background has given me solid basis for teaching theoretical subjects such as rock and soil mechanics, fluid and granular dynamics and more practical ones such as engineering geology, geological risk and hazards, with a particular interest in landslides and volcanoes. 

Programme Leader of the MSc in Environmental and Engineering Geology

Module leader of:
- GEOL 3010 Engineering Geology 
- GEOL 3014 Geohazards and Risk
- GEES 528 Soil and Rock Mechanics, Characterisation and Field Skills
- GEES 529 Site Investigation and Geohazards
- GEES 530 Professional Experience in Environmental and Engineering Geology

In the module team of the following modules:

- GEOL1001 The Dynamic Earth
- GEES1001PP Natural Hazards
- GEOL1005 Geological Maps and Structural Geology
- GEOL1006 Fieldwork and Key Skills
- GEOL2003 Geospatial Techniques
- GEOL2007 Landscape Evolution 
- GEOL3002 Earth Science Independent Research Project and Professional Skills
- GEOL3001 Geological Mapping Research Project and Professional Skills
- GEOL3003 Geophysics
- GEOL3008 Advanced geological fieldwork
- APIE 217 Preparation for a Year Long Work Placement in Earth Science 
- GEOL5001 Geoscience Frontiers: Research and Communication
- GEOL 5004 MGeol Project

Stage 1, 2, 4, 5 tutor

Research interests

Study of geophysical fluid and granular flow dynamics processes with a multi-disciplinary approach, through experimental and numerical modelling. Hazard and risk assessment of multiple and complex volcanic and landslide phenomena, e.g. debris flows and rock avalanches, lahars and tephra fallout, mass flow induced tsunamis. More recently I am developing and becoming more and more interested in the use of data mining, crowd sourcing, smart sensors and machine learning applied to geo-environmental risks and citizen science.

Founder and Leader of the Research Interest Group in Geoenvironmental Risks, a group that brings together researchers from different disciplines across the whole University, to discuss and develop research to tackle geo-environmental challenges.

Other research

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Dr Valérie Baumann (2nd Supervisor) Rain-triggered lahar initiation in volcanic areas. Completed December 2018

Grants & contracts

Live funded projects:

- NERC Grant - SENSUM: Smart SENSing of landscapes Undergoing hazardous hydrogeological Movement  

- RAEng, Frontiers of Development - NET: New technologies and participatory approaches for disaster resilience, PI

- NERC – Tsunamigenic mass flows at Stromboli Volcano- analysis and modelling after the 3rd of July events

- European Regional Development Fund, Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab, Geo-Environmental Research Leader

- Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF – funded Modelling settling-driven gravitational instabilities from volcanic clouds, Co-I

- Director of Studies of Symeon Makris PhD project: Propagation of Volcanic and non-volcanic landslide: a combined field, experimental and numerical approach

- Supervision of Master project of Sewedo Todowede, a current (2019/20) MSc student in Data Science and Business analytics: Extraction and analysis of social media data for volcanic/landslide events monitoring

Previous grant and fellowship awarded:

- 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering as 1 participant to the Frontiers of Development symposium on Disaster Resilience. Istanbul 1-4/03/2020 

- 2018 SEED Funding from the School of Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Plymouth to develop the granular flow set-up 

- 2016 International short visit SNSF grant at the NGU, Torndheim, Norway

- 2016 Fondation Ernst et Lucie Schmidheiny grant for attending ISL conference 

- 2015 European Science Foundation ESF Exchange Grant to spend one month at the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans (Clermont-Ferrand, France)

- 2015 Société Académique to participate to the IUGG meeting in Prague

- 2013 Birkigt Foundation to participate to the IAVCEI meeting, Japan

- 2011 Faculty of the Sciences de la Terre et de l’Environnement for acquiring new equipment for the geophysical fluid dynamic laboratory

- 2010 ERC grant to partcipate to Cities on Volcanoes

- 2010 Fondation Ernst et Lucie Schmidheiny grant for attending four international conferences in May-June 2010

- 2009 Fondation Ernst et Lucie Schmidheiny research project grant “Risks related to geophysical gravitational flows”

- 2008 Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Early Post-doc mobility for a year fellowship at the MIT, MA, US

Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Makris S, Manzella I, Cole P & Roverato M 2020 'Grain size distribution and sedimentology in volcanic mass-wasting flows: implications for propagation and mobility' International Journal of Earth Sciences , DOI Open access
Baumann V, Bonadonna C, Cuomo S, Moscariello M & Manzella I 2018 'Slope stability models for rainfall-induced lahars during long-lasting eruptions' Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , DOI Open access
Scollo S, Bonadonna C & Manzella I 2017 'Settling-driven gravitational instabilities associated with volcanic clouds: new insights from experimental investigations' Bulletin of Volcanology 79, (6) , DOI Open access
Bonadonna C, Cioni R, Costa A, Druitt T, Phillips J, Pioli L, Andronico D, Harris A, Scollo S & Bachmann O 2016 'MeMoVolc report on classification and dynamics of volcanic explosive eruptions' Bulletin of Volcanology 78, (11) , DOI Open access
Longchamp C, Abellan A, Jaboyedoff M & Manzella I 2016 '3-D models and structural analysis of rock avalanches: the study of the deformation process to better understand the propagation mechanism' Earth Surface Dynamics 4, (3) 743-755 , DOI Open access
Manzella I, Bonadonna C, Phillips JC & Monnard H 2015 'The role of gravitational instabilities in deposition of volcanic ash' Geology 43, (3) 211-214 , DOI Open access
Bagheri GH, Bonadonna C, Manzella I & Vonlanthen P 2015 'On the characterization of size and shape of irregular particles' Powder Technology 270, 141-153 , DOI
Bagheri GH, Bonadonna C, Manzella I, Pontelandolfo P & Haas P 2013 'Dedicated vertical wind tunnel for the study of sedimentation of non-spherical particles' Review of Scientific Instruments 84, (5) 054501-054501 , DOI
Manzella I & Labiouse V 2012 'Empirical and analytical analyses of laboratory granular flows to investigate rock avalanche propagation' Landslides 10, (1) 23-36 , DOI
Valentine GA, Bonadonna C, Manzella I, Clarke A & Dellino P 2011 'Large‐Scale Experiments on Volcanic Processes' Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 92, (11) 89-90 , DOI
Manzella I & Labiouse V 2009 'Flow experiments with gravel and blocks at small scale to investigate parameters and mechanisms involved in rock avalanches' Engineering Geology 109, (1-2) 146-158 , DOI
Manzella I & Labiouse V 2007 'Qualitative Analysis of Rock Avalanches Propagation by Means of Physical Modelling of Non-Constrained Gravel Flows' Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 41, (1) 133-151 , DOI
Conference Papers
Vagnon F, Pirulli M, Manzella I, Kelfoun K & Ferrero AM 2018 'Numerical analysis of the rheological behaviour of the Socompa debris avalanche, Chile' 785-790 Open access
Manzella I, Penna I, Kelfoun K & Jaboyedoff M 2016 'High-mobility of unconstrained rock avalanches: Numerical simulations of a laboratory experiment and an Argentinian event' the Landslide Symposium 6-/-0/20166-/-0/2016CRC Press 1345-1352 , DOI Open access
Manzella I, Einstein HH & Grasselli G 2013 'DEM and FEM/DEM modelling of granular flows to investigate large debris avalanche propagation' 247-253 , DOI
Galderisi A, Bonadonna C, Delmonaco G, Ferrara FF, Menoni S, Ceudech A, Biass S, Frischknecht C, Manzella I & Minucci G 2013 'Vulnerability assessment and risk mitigation: The case of Vulcano Island, Italy' 55-64 , DOI
Einstein H, Sousa R, Karam K, Manzella I & Kveldsvik V 2010 'Rock slopes from mechanics to decision making' CRC Press 3-13 , DOI
Manzella I & Labiouse V 2010 'Physical modelling to better understand rock avalanches' 1259-1265 , DOI
Manzella I & Labiouse V 2008 'Extension of the fringe projection method to measure shape and position of the centre of mass of granular flow deposit' 4547-4554

Reports & invited lectures

  • Invited Online Lecture, 02/12/2020, University of Cagliari, Esplosioni, collassi di versante e tsunami a Stromboli: come capirli, prevederli e prepararci
  • ProGeo 2020, 27/11/2020 Introductory webinar, The growing importance of digital and innovative technologies in geo-environmental practice 
  • Kyoto, Japan, World Landslide Forum, WLF 2020, invited talk, Manzella I. Granular flow experiments and mobility of large mass flows
  • Looe, UK, SWOUGS 2019, invited talk, Manzella I. Using small scale laboratory experiments to understand volcanic and landslide hazards
  • Exeter, UK, PROGEO 2017, invited talk, From landslide propagation to volcanic ash dispersal. How experiments can help in understanding processes and in assessing hazard
  • Clermont-Ferrand, France: invited seminar at the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, 01.09.2015. An experimental multidisciplinary approach to understand hazardous flows in volcanic environment
  • IUGG Prague, invited talk, 28.06.2015 Gravitational instabilities and their role in enhancing fine-ash deposition
  • University of New Brunswick, Canada, invited seminar, 16.06.2015 Understanding hazardous geophysical flows: a combined experimental- numerical multidisciplinary approach
  • Manchester, UK: invited seminar. 31.07.2013. Experimental, DEM and FEM/DEM modeling of granular and block flows to investigate large debris avalanche mobility.
  • Rome, Italy: invited talk to the Second World Landslide Forum, 3-9.10.2011. DEM and FEM/DEM modelling of granular flows to investigate large debris avalanche propagation.
  • Clermont-Ferrand, France: invited seminar at the Université de Blaise Pascal, 15.06.2011. Physical and numerical modelling of large debris avalanche propagation.
  • Vienna, Austria: invited talk to the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, 03-08.04.2011. Propagation of large debris avalanches: analytical, DEM and FEMDEM modelling of granular and block flows.
  • Cambridge, US: MIT Geotechnical and Geomechanical invited Seminars, 28.10.2008. Dry Rock Avalanche Propagation
  • Geneva, Switzerland: invited seminar University of Geneva, 08.02.2008. Dry rock avalanche propagation: Unconstrained flow experiments with granular materials and blocks at small scale.
  • Courmayeur, Italy: Joint international technical committee on landslides and engineered slopes (JTC1) Workshop, 25-28.09.2006. Parametrical study of rock avalanche propagation by means of small scale physical modelling.

Other academic activities

Conferences organised: 

  • ProGeo 2020 Online Digitalisation and Innovation in Geo-environmental Practice (Chair and organiser)
  • Organiser of the Webinar of the South West Group of the Geological Society of London by Dr Heike Wanke 9 July 2020
  • VMSG The Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group Annual Meeting 7-9 January 2020 Organising committee
  • Chair of the session on Hazard Risk and Communication VMSG 2020
  • Co-convener of COV session 2021 on volcanic instabilities
  • Co-convener of IAVCEI 2021 on volcanic instabilities
  • Co-convener of 2 sessions at vEGU 2021 and co-convener of EGU sessions since 2015 on large slope instabilities
  • Chair of ARMA session 2019 on Rock engineering and risk

Outreach activities:

  • Workshop for the award winning event Girls into Geoscience Volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis – why look at one? Let’s do them all!
  • Workshop on Amazing dangerous volcanoes, Girls into Geosciences, 2018
  • TecDay, Gymnase de Beaulieu, Lausanne, 10.10.2014 and collège Emilie-Gourd, Gèneve, 15.10.2013
  • Inauguration day of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory of the Université de Genève, 13.05.2011
  • Visit “La face cachée des volcans” for the Journée de l’egalité, Université de Genève, 12.11.2009
  • Stand of the Volcanology group for the « Nuit de la Science », Genève, 13.06.2009

Additional information

Languages: Italian (C2), English (C2), French (C2), Spanish (B1), German (B1 understanding, A2 written and spoken)