Office: 541-737-1212

Wilkinson Hall

Wilkinson Hall 216

2601 SW Orchard Avenue

2601 SW Orchard Avenue
Corvallis, Oregon 97331

Profile Field Tabs

Brief Research Interests: 

Volcanology, Aeolian geomorphology, supervolcanism


Areas of Specialization

Volcanology, Igneous Petrology, Aeolian sedimentology/geomorphology, Terrestrial Planetary Surface Processes, Equity, Access and Inclusion

Research Interests

I am a field-based volcanologist with active interests in aeolian geomorphology and planetary analogs. The questions I address start in the field and focus on understanding the hazards and inner workings of volcanoes and how volcanic landscapes are modified by the wind. Some core themes in our research efforts are:

  • Magmatism and volcanism in volcanic arcs - Cause and consequences of episodic behaviour of arcs; steady state vs flare-up modes
  • Physical volcanology - dynamics of pyroclastic density currents, lahar sedimentology, eruption and emplacement of crystal-rich silicic lava
  • Petrology of explosive volcanic eruptions - zoning in magma chambers, evidence recharge as an eruption trigger/initiator, time-scales of magma ascent
  • Explosive and effusive eruptions of crystal–rich lava - post-caldera eruptions, feedbacks between vesiculation-ascent-rate and crystal framework integrity
  • Caldera (super)volcanism - Thermomechanical feedbacks in initiating catastrophic eruptions, resurgence at large calderas
  • Volcano-plutonic connection - Architecture of pre-eruptive magma systems, magma residence, geophysical, chronologic, and petrologic insights

An enduring theme of our volcanological studies has been comprehensive field studies that provide the volcanological and stratigraphic framework for subsequent detailed chronochemical studies that reveal pre-eruptive storage time scales and magmatic architecture of magma reservoirs and their geophysical expressions. Utlimately we have tried to use this insight to understand thresholds for eruption vs storage of magma and the character of the eventual eruptions. To investigate these phenomena I use the volcanologists toolbox (Petrology (particularly microanalysis), Geochemistry, Physical Volcanology, Geochronology, Remotely Sensed data, Geophysics) at all different scales. I like to think of this as "Volcano Forensics" - a CSI approach to volcanology. I am not an “expert” in any particular analytical technique, but I look for different tools and creative solutions for problems of interest most often in collaboration with more knowledgeable colleagues, many of whom are early career folk.

Our current research projects take us to the Andes (Chile, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia), Indonesia (Toba, Sinabung volcanoes), China/North Korea (Changbaishan), and Japan (Unzen and SW Hokkaido) and we collaborate with excellent labs at my home institution of Oregon State University, and many others around the world.

This video is an outreach piece we made for our work at the Toba caldera. It features former PhD. student Adonara Mucek.

YouTube video: Volcano Comeback: Understanding Resurgence at Lake Toba

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. We apply our insights into how aeolian processes might be operating on other planetary surfaces, particularly Mars.

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 particularly for those from under-represented communities through activities that increase equity, access, and inclusion in the Earth Sciences - see our efforts through the Increasing Diversity in Earth Sciences and the LBOS Geobridge programs.


B.Sc (Hons) Geology, University of Southampton, United Kingdom, 1983
PhD Earth Sciences, Open University, United Kingdom, 1987


2016-2019 ( I was on Sabbatical 2019-2020)
GEO 495 – Field Camp (Summer 2016, 2019)
GEO 627 – Advanced Volcanology (Fall 2016, 2018)
GEO 201 – Physical Geology (Winter annually)
GEO 305 – Living with Active Cascade Volcanoes (Spring 2018)
GEO 499 – Surface Processes on the Terrestrial Planets (Spring 2018)
GEO 427 – Volcanology (Spring 2018)

Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students

  • Sarah Lapinski (PhD) Starts Fall 2020...something really exciting to do with magmas, volcanoes, and hazards
  • Charles Lewis (PhD) Starts Fall 2020...something really exciting to do with magmas, volcanoes, and hazards
  • Abdullah Alohali (MS) Volcanic Hazards of Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia
  • Jordan Lubbers (PhD) Storage Conditions in Large Silicic Magma Reservoirs (co-advisor with Adam Kent)

Recent Graduate Theses (Primary Advisor unless stated)

  • Michelle Neely (MS 2019) Pattern to Process: morphometry and process in gravel megaripples in the Puna of Argentina
  • Jade Bowers (MS 2019) Sinabung Volcano, Sumatra; current eruptions and their relation to Toba
  • Katharine Solada (MS 2018) Paleomagnetic correlation and timescale of resurgence at Toba, Sumatra
  • Adonara Mucek (PhD 2017) Resurgence at Toba Caldera, Sumatra
  • Bethany Murphy (MS 2015) Timescales of silicic magmatic processes: U-Series zircon chronochemistry of Mt Unzen, Japan
  • Stephanie Grocke (PhD 2014) Magma Dynamics and Evolution in Continental Arcs: Insights form the Central Andes
  • Dale Burns (PhD 2014) Crustal Architecture and Magma Dynamics in a Large Continental Magmatic System: A Case Study of the Purico-Chascon Volcanic Complex, Northern Chile (co-advised wth Frank Tepley)
  • Jason Kaiser (PhD 2014) Understanding Large Resurgent Calderas and Associated Magma Systems: The Pastos Grandes Caldera Complex, Southwest Bolivia
  • Jamie Kern (MS 2012) The plutonic record of the Altiplano Puna Volcanic Complex revealed by zircon chronology
  • Rodrigo Iriarte (MS 2012) The Cerro Guacha Caldera Complex, SW Bolivia: stratigraphy, volcanology, and magma dynamics
  • Casey Tierney (MS 2011) Timescales of silicic magmatic processes: U-Series chronochemistry of effusive domes of the Altiplano Puna Volcanic Complex.
  • Chris Folkes (Ph.D. 2011) Physical Volcanology and Magmatic evolution of the Cerro Galan Caldera Complex, NW Argentina. (Monash University, Co-advisor w/Ray Cas, Heather Wright)
  • Chris Harpel (Ph.D. 2010), Lahar sedimentology and hazards of the 2ka eruption of El Misti, southern Peru
  • Robert Peckyno (MS - 2010), Morphometric parameters of terrestrial lavas
  • Mangon Abot (MS - 2010), Amphibole-Plagioclase P-T estimates for the Altiplano Puna Volcanic Complex (Co-advisor with Anita Grunder)

Former Advisees and Co-Advisees – where are they now?

  • Michelle Neely - GIS specialist, Portland, OR
  • Jade Bowers, PhD Student, Boise State University
  • Katharine Solada, Manager, CEOAS Paleomagnetic Lab, Oregon State University
  • Adonara Mucek, STEM curriculum designer, Singapore
  • Bethany Murphy, Engineering Geologist, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Stephanie Grocke, Geologic Consultant, Nevada Resources
  • Dale Burns, Research Faculty, Stanford University
  • Jason Kaiser, Associate Professor, University of Southern Utah
  • Chris Folkes, Geologist, Geological Survey of New South Wales
  • Rodrigo Iriarte , Professor, Universidad Major San Andres, La Paz, Bolivia,
  • Jamie Kern, Informal Educator, National Park Service
  • Casey Tierney, Visiting Asisstant Professor, Central Washington University
  • Chris Harpel, VDAP, USGS, CVO Vancouver, WA
  • Mangon Abot, Program Head, Malaysian Geological Survey,

Hosted/Sponsored Post docs / Research Visitors

  • Shimpei Uesawa (2017-2018) CRIEPI, Japan
  • Diane Smith (2019) Trinity University, TX (Sabbatical Visit)
  • Johan Varekamp (2017) Wesleyan University, CT, USA (Sabbatical Visit)
  • Seiko Yamasaki (2016-2017) Institute of Earthquake and Volcano Geology, Geological Survey of Japan
  • Akihiko Tomiya (2014-2015) Institute of Earthquake and Volcano Geology, Geological Survey of Japan
  • Bo Pan - (2013-2014 and 2018-2019) Chinese Earthquake Administration, Beijing
  • Mauro Spagnuolo (2012 - 2014) - CONICET Research Fellow and Instructor at Universidad Buenos Aires, Argentina


Selected papers since 2018 (Student authors identified with *; Post doc/Early Career colleague )

  1. Solada, K. E.*, Reilly, B.T., Stoner, J.S., de Silva, S.L., Mucek, A.E.*, Hatfield, R.G., Pratomo, I., Jamil, R., and Setianto, B., 2020. Paleomagnetic Observations From Lake Sediments on Samosir Island, Toba Caldera, Indonesia, and Its Late Pleistocene Resurgence. Quaternary Research 95. Cambridge University Press: 97–112. doi:10.1017/qua.2020.13.
  2. Pan, B., de Silva, S.L., Xu, J., Liu, S., and Xu, D., 2020. Late Pleistocene to Present Day Eruptive History of the Changbaishan-Tianchi Volcano, China/DPRK: New Field, Geochronological and Chemical Constraints. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 399 (July). Elsevier B.V.: 106870. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.106870.
  3. Báez, W., de Silva, S.L., Chiodi, A., Bustos, E.**, Giordano, G., Arnosio, M., Suzaño, N., Viramonte, J.G., Norini, G., and Groppelli, G., 2020. “Pulsating Flow Dynamics of Sustained, Forced Pyroclastic Density Currents: Insights From a Facies Analysis of the Campo De La Piedra Pómez Ignimbrite, Southern Puna, Argentina” Bulletin of Volcanology, 1–32. doi:10.1007/s00445-020-01385-
  4. Báez, W., Bustos, E., Chiodi, A., Reckziegel, F., Arnosio, M., de Silva, S.L., Giordano, G., Viramonte, J. G., Sampietro-Vattuone, M. M., and Peña-Monné, J. L., 2020. Eruptive Style and Flow Dynamics of the Pyroclastic Density Currents Related to the Holocene Cerro Blanco Eruption (Southern Puna Plateau, Argentina).” Journal of South American Earth Sciences 98. Elsevier: 102482. doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2019.102482.
  5. Burns, D.H., de Silva, S.L., Tepley, F.J., and Schmitt, A.K., 2019. Chasing the mantle: Deciphering cryptic mantle signals through Earth’s thickest continental magmatic arc. Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
  6. Perkins, J. P., N.J. Finnegan, S. L. de Silva, and M. J. Willis. 2019. “Controls on Eolian Landscape Evolution in Fractured Bedrock.” Geophysical Research Letters 46 (21). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: 12012–20. doi:10.1029/2019GL083955.
  7. Sacchi, M, Giuseppe De Natale, V Spiess, L Steinmann, V Acocella, M Corradino, S.L. de Silva, et. al. 2019. “A Roadmap for Amphibious Drilling at the Campi Flegrei Caldera: Insights From a MagellanPlus Workshop.” Scientific Drilling 7 (November): 1–18. doi:10.5194/sd-7-1-2019.
  8. Okumura, S., de Silva, S. L., Nakamura, M., and Osamu, S., 2019. Caldera-Forming Eruptions of Mushy Magma Modulated by Feedbacks Between Ascent Rate, Gas Retention/Loss and Bubble/Crystal Framework Interaction. Nature Publishing Group, October. Springer US, 1–12. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-52272-9.
  9. Bustos, E, W Báez, G Norini, M Arnosio, and S L de Silva. 2018. “The Geological and Structural Evolution of the Long-Lived Miocene-Pleistocene La Hoyada Volcanic Complex in the Geodynamic Framework of the Central Andes, Argentina.” Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, July. Elsevier B.V., 1–22. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2018.07.010.
  10. de Silva S.L., and Kay, S.M., 2018. Turning up the heat: High Flux magmatism in the Central Andes. Elements v. 14, No. 4, p.245 - 250
  11. Pritchard, M.E., de Silva, S.L., Michelfelder, G., Zandt, G., McNutt, S.R., Gottsmann, J., West, M.E., et al. 2018. Synthesis: PLUTONS: Investigating the Relationship Between Pluton Growth and Volcanism in the Central Andes. Geosphere, March, 1–29. doi:10.1130/GES01578.1.
  12. Grocke, S.B*, de Silva, S.L., Wallace,P.J., Cottrell, E., and Schmitt, A.K., 2018. Catastrophic Caldera-Forming (CCF) Monotonous Silicic Magma Reservoirs: Constraints From Volatiles in Melt Inclusions From the 3·49 Ma Tara Supereruption, Guacha II Caldera, SW Bolivia. Journal of Petrology 58 (11): 2115–42. doi:10.1093/petrology/egy003.
  13. de Silva, S.L. and Bailey, J.E., 2018. Some unique surface patterns on ignimbrites on Earth: A “bird's eye” view as a guide for planetary mappers, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. v. 342, p. 47-60.