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‘Hello world!’

Hello and welcome! My name is Sophie and I’m here to talk about all things solid Earth geophysics. I’ll be writing about exciting discoveries in my research, geology based pieces that make the news and some insights into the day to day life of being a PhD researcher.

To introduce myself a little,  I’m currently in the second year of my PhD at the University of Edinburgh. I’m trying to understand how the tiny earthquakes generated by active volcanoes, can give us more insight into eruptive processes. In particular I have spent the last 18 months working on Tungurahua Volcano in Ecuador. Tungurahua began to show signs of activity in 1999 and through cycles of Vulcanian and Strombolian eruptions, activity continued through until mid 2017. Although the volcano sits relatively quietly now, there is still vast amounts that can be learnt from these 18 years of activity. The volcano is closely monitored by the Instituto Geofísico in Quito, Ecuador – and you can read a little more about their work here ( The popular tourist town, of Baños sits just to the north of Tungurahua. Its population of over 10,000 people, as well as many more farming communities throughout the Tungurahua province are particularly exposed and vulnerable to volcanic hazards. I hope that my research can contribute to ongoing studies of this volcano and many other analogous systems around the world.

Aside from seismology and volcanology I have a broad interest in most things solid Earth geology and geophysics. At undergraduate level I presented a passive seismic analysis of the New Zealand tectonic system as part of my dissertation, and during my masters I studied magnetic anomaly mapping in the Lesser Antilles subduction zone.

During term time, I am a tutor and demonstrator for undergraduate Earth Science students, here at the University of Edinburgh. I tutor an Introductory Geophysics course for 2nd year students, covering principles of global seismology, electromagnetism and gravity. I am also a demonstrator in a weekly Python computer lab for Geochemists – Python is my programming language of choice for day to day work (pun intended in the welcome to this post), but I have dabbled a little with C++ and MATLAB, and I’m always keen to learn new computing skills.

I have a number of conferences and workshops coming up across the summer, both in Edinburgh and overseas, and I’ll be sure to add content as they happen. I’m most active over on twitter (@sophie_butcher_), so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to follow back. Thanks for having a read and keep your eyes peeled for more volcano content soon!





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