Renowned volcanologist to speak at UWI

St. Augustine, Trinidad W.I.—April 24, 2006 – The Seismic Research Unit will, this week, host world-renowned volcanologist, Professor Steve Sparks, as an eminent speaker for the University of the West Indies’ Distinguished Open Lecture Series. Designed to draw national attention to leading global issues, UWI’s Open Lecture Series selects lecturers who are leaders in their respective fields to bring new perspectives to these issues.

Currently the Director of the Research Centre for Environmental and Geophysical Flows at the University of Bristol in the UK, Professor Sparks has conducted field work at volcanoes in at least sixteen different countries across the globe (including Europe, Iceland, the Andes and the Caribbean) and has been the recipient of at least twenty honorary awards. He is internationally recognized for his work on volcanology and in particular his pioneering work on the physical processes that drive eruptions. His application of an integrated approach involving observation, experiment and theory to tackling fundamental geological issues has helped to revolutionise the study of volcanoes, changing it from an essentially observational science to one where theories are tested by experiments before being put to use in real emergencies. He has played a prominent role in the management of the volcanic emergency on Montserrat, chairing the group of scientists that make hazard and risk assessments on the volcano.

The highlight of Professor Sparks’ visit to Trinidad will be a free public lecture at UWI’s Learning Resource Centre on Thursday, April 27th at 6:30pm. Entitled “Volcanic eruptions and their impact on societies”, the lecture will discuss the challenges faced in predicting volcanic eruptions, the progress that has been made in this field and the invaluable societal benefits to be derived from volcanological research. During his visit he will also be conducting a short course on “Fluid Mechanics in Volcanology” as well as he will be leading a seminar for sixth form physical science students to which all sixth form students have been invited. In addition to the science of volcanoes, students will have an opportunity to learn more about earth science careers and about the life of a volcanologist.

Based at UWI’s St. Augustine campus, the Seismic Research Unit is the agency responsible for monitoring earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis for the English-speaking islands of the Eastern Caribbean. For further information on Professor Sparks’ activities or for updates on geologic events in the Eastern Caribbean please visit or call 662-4659.