Shanaka (Shan) de Silva
Volcanology, Igneous Petrology, Aeolian sedimentology/geomorphology, Terrestrial Planetary Surface Processes
I am a field-based volcanologist with active interests in aeolian geomorphology and planetary analogs. The questions I address start in the field – there are so many interesting things we can see on the Earth…many of which we simply don't understand. Field observations are the starting point of my inquiry and these have led to some core themes in our research efforts: magmatism and volcanism in volcanic arcs, physical volcanology and petrology of explosive volcanic eruptions, effusion of crystal–rich lava, caldera (super)volcanism and the volcano-plutonic connection. To investigate these phenomena I use the volcanologists toolbox (Petrology, Geochemistry, Physical Volcanology, Geochronology, Remotely Sensed data, Geophysics) at all different scales. I am not an “expert” in any particular analytical technique, but I look for different tools and creative solutions for the problems of interest most often in collaboration with those who are experts. I like to think of this as "Volcano Forensics" - a CSI approach to volcanology.
Our research projects have taken us to Chile, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Italy, Indonesia, China, and Japan. Read about our work at Lake Toba
, a large caldera in Sumatra.
As a volcanologist, why am I interested in aeolian geomorphology? While studying volcanic features in the high Andes, we couldn't ignore the fact that wind was producing an other-world landscape that was a valuable analog for the surface of Mars. Starting with yardangs, we have begun to address how the wind erodes and modifies high desert volcanic landscapes. Our latest work is trying to understand how gravel dominated bedforms form and rates of aeolian erosion of ignimbrite.
The broader impacts of our work relate to volcanic hazards, planetary surface processes, volcanism and climate, and Earth Science Education and Outreach (Visit our VolcanoWorld
website). I am also committed to undergraduate research and Increasing Diversity in Earth Sciences