Photo of Mr Matthew Head

Mr Matthew Head



Thesis Scope:

My PhD project seeks to indentify the mechanisms driving episodes of volcanic unrest and ground deformation within the Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ), New Zealand, through the integration of multidisciplinary geophysical and geodetic studies with the numerical modelling of deformation sources. This research is funded by the NERC GW4+ initiative and supported by CASE Partner GNS Science.

Among other phenomena, a volcanic system undergoing unrest may exhibit deformation of the ground surface, which can provide insights into the mechanisms that are driving the deformation. In order to better understand the processes that occur in the vinicinty of an active magmatic system, patterns of ground deformation and changes in stress states have been modelled over the years, using increasingly sophisticated modelling techniques.

Specifically, I will be using COMSOL Multiphysics and the Finite Element Method to produce numerical models that can incorporate spatially variable material properties, informed by multidisciplinary datasets, to better represent the heterogeneous crust in which volcanic systems reside. My research at present is focussed on how viscoelastic crustal rheologies are implemented within the literature, by comparing the time-dependent behaviour of different rheological models for a series of reservoir evolutions. Further to this, I am comparing two distinct deformation mechanisms, pressurised (stress-based) and volumetric (strain-based), which are frequently utilised and assumed to be equivalent.


Primary Supervisor: Dr James Hickey (University of Exeter)
Co-Supervisor: Dr Joachim Gottsmann (University of Bristol)
Co-Supervisor: Dr Nico Fournier (GNS Science, New Zealand)

Educational Background:

2013 - 2017 | University of Southampton | MSci Geophysics | First Class Honours

  • MSci thesis: Separating the electromagnetic responses owing to magma beneath the Soufriére Hills Volcano, Montserrat, and the surrounding ocean bathymetry
  • Completed modules include: Global Tectonics, Geodynamics and Solid Earth Geophysics, Applied and Marine Geophyics, Computational Data Analysis, as well as supplementary mathematics and physics modules
  • Awarded the British Geophysical Association Prize upon graduating, for the highest aggregate degree mark