EOSC 420 · Volcanology

Field and lab-based studies in volcanology concentrating on physical and chemical aspects of volcanic processes. [2-3-0] Prerequisite: All of EOSC 220, EOSC 221.

Course Availability & Schedule

Learning Goals

Methods & Goals of the Course

1) Field & Lab examination of volcanic rocks and deposits

  • Goal: To learn to observe, describe, & interpret volcanic deposits in a scientific manner

2) Review and explore the physical properties of magmas

  • Goal: To gain an intuition for how magma properties vary and how these properties relate to eruption characteristics/style

3) Characterization of "eruption style"

  • Goal:To understand the range of volcanic activity and the reasons for different behaviours

4)  Study the linkages between eruption style and deposit characteristics

  • Goal: To understand the range of volcanic activity and the reasons for differrent behaviours

5) Volcanic Hazards

  • Goal: Identification of volcanic hazards, assessment of risk, mitigation strategies.


Professor J.K. (Kelly) Russell

2014 TA's: Amy Ryan and Marie Turnbull


Required Textbook (Available at the UBC Bookstore):

Francis, P. & Oppenheimer, C. "Volcanoes". Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition.

Course Content

Field Trips: There are 3 field trips at the start of the course, including:
1) Cheakamus Basalts on Sea-to-Sky Highway (1 day)
2) Watts Point Dacite quarry, south of Squamish (1 day)
3) Meager Mountain Volcanic Complex, Pemberton (2 day)

Dates of trips will be sent out in mid-summer.

Experimental Group Projects: A substantial component of the course derives from your
participation in a group scientific project. The project involves designing and implementing
an experimental program to address a major volcano logical scientific question. The topic
questions are handed out in the first week of classes.


Lecture Topics

Week Topic
1 Introduction & Scope
2 Physical Properties of Magmas I
(Viscosity, Density & Glass Formation)
3 Physical Properties of Magmas II
4 Description & Classification
of Pyroclastic Depsoits & Rocks
5 Styles of Volcanic Eruptions
6 Ascent & Eruption of Felsic Magma
7 Lava Flow Mechanisms and Traits
8 Pyroclastic Fall and Flow Processes
9 Analysis of Classic Eruptions
10 Neogene & Recent Volcanism in B.C.
11 Subglacial Volcanic Processes
12 Recognition of Volcanic Hazards
13 Assessment and Mitigation of Volcanic Risk
14 Atmospheric Effects of Volcanic Eruptions


Week Topic/Exercise
1 Field Trip 1 (1-day)
2 Field Trip 2 (1-day)
3 Field Trip 3 (2-DAY Weekend Field Trip - 2460 BP eruption products of Mount Meager)
4 Hand Sample Description I:
Volcanic Rocks
5 Hand Sample Description II: 
Pyroclastic Rocks & Complex Processes
6 Physical Characterization of Pyroclastic Deposits
7 Pyroclastic Fallout Project
8 Lava Flows 
9 Textures Related to Flow, Mixing & Assimilation
10 Fragmental Rocks & Welding
12 Subglacial Deposit Types
13 Oral Presentations (If Needed)
14 Lab Exam