Historic and prehistoric volcanic activity at St Kitts and Nevis, West Indies- controls on future hazards


Project description

The volcanic islands of St Kitts and Nevis, in the West Indies represent archetypes of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) where new knowledge of previous volcanism could significantly improve hazard and risk mitigation. Archaeological evidence points to impact of prehistoric societies on these islands by volcanic activity, and, there is evidence that St Kitts may have been active between its first recorded siting, by Columbus in 1493 and European settlement around 1623. Activity at Nevis is likely considerably older.

 This studentship will:

  • undertake fieldwork on St Kitts and Nevis to document and interpret the critical volcanic products and make detailed sub-sampling of key sequences for further analysis  
  • use geochemical and petrological analysis to relate the activity to pre-eruptive perturbations in magma storage conditions and
  • determine the age of the most recent volcanic products exposed on St Kitts and Nevis
  • undertake archival work to investigate the ‘possible’ volcanism since 1493, the role the volcanic landscape has played in current settlement patterns and the influence of other major natural hazards in recent times.

A secondary aim will be understand the importance of volcanic activity in the context of other geophysical and hydrometeorological hazards, and to consider how this information can be applied in volcanic hazard assessment.

It is anticipated that the successful student will spend time at the UWI Seismic Research Centre towards the end of the studentship (potentially as an intern) integrating the new knowledge into SRC’s hazard assessment and mitigation plans for future volcanic emergencies on both islands.


Applicants should have a minimum of a first class or upper second class bachelor degree in Earth Science or a related discipline. Applications from candidates with a relevant masters qualification will be welcomed.


The studentship will have a three-year duration and will cover full-time home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of approximately £14,777 per annum. The position is open to UK and EU citizens with appropriate qualifications who have been resident in the UK for three years. EU citizens who have not been resident in the UK for three years may qualify for a fees only scholarship. International candidates required to pay overseas fees must be able to cover the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (approximately £10,800 per annum).

General information about applying for a research degree at Plymouth University is available at: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/student-life/your-studies/research-degrees/applicants-and-enquirers.

You can apply via the online application form, which can be found at: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/study/postgraduate and click ‘Apply’.

Please mark it FAO Mrs Nikki King and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

For more information on the admissions process, please contact Nikki King.

Closing date for applications: 12 noon, 28 January 2019. 

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview week beginning 18 February 2019. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 1 March 2019 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.