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R S J  Sparks FRS

Abstract: Eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano Montserrat: spectacle of Nature and Human Catastrophe

The Eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Eastern Caribbean started in 1995 and still continues over 12 years later. The eruption was the first since the island was colonised in 1632. The eruption has been intensively studied as a consequence as the severe effects on the people of the island. Two-thirds of the island is now uninhabitable and over 8000 people have had to leave of the original 12000 population present in 1995. The eruption is typical of the kind of volcanism that occurs where tectonic plates collide. The magma is gas-rich and very viscous. As a consequence the volcano can be explosive at times and the lava piles up round the vent to form a steep hot dome. Such lava domes are very unstable and collapse frequently to form devastating and lethal hot avalanches. Sadly 20 people have died during the eruption, but a much larger number of people have been saved through the partnership of scientists from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, the UK Government and Montserrat Government. The long-lived eruption has led to some major advances in the science of understanding how volcanoes work, monitoring methods and assessment of hazards and attendant risks.

BSc.Hon Geology, Imperial College (London), Upper Second (July 1971).  PhD Imperial College (London) Geology (October 1974).

In October 1974 Sparks was awarded a Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, London tenured at Lancaster University, UK.

In November 1976 he was awarded a NATO Research Fellowship at Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA.

From November 1978 - March 1989 he was University Lecturer in Earch Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK and from April 1989 to the present, he has held the position of Professor of Geology at the University of Bristol, UK.

Steve Sparks is affiliated with the following:-
Geological Society of London
Geological Society of America
American Geophysical Union
European Union of Geosciences
International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earths Interior

Honours include:
Darwin Lectureship (British Association for Advancement of Science), 1982
Wager prize for Volcanology (1983)
President of the Geological Society of London (1994-1996)
Arthur L Day Medal of the Geological Society of America (1998)
Bakerian Lecture of Royal Society (2000)
James E Bass Distinguished Scholar, Yale University (2007)




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