Michigan Tech Research Forum

Spring 2017 Distinguished Lecturer - Dr. Simon Carn

Simon Carn

 Dr. Simon Carn was nominated by Dr. John Gierke and selected from a highly competitive pool of candidates as the Spring 2017 Distinguished Lecturer. His lecture, “Volcanology — Multidisciplinary Science for a Versatile Campus.” , was presented in April 2017.

Volcanology – the study of volcanoes – is a truly multidisciplinary endeavor that encompasses numerous fields including geology, physics, chemistry, material science and social science. Arguably, Michigan Tech owes its very existence to volcanic activity, which is ultimately responsible for the area’s rich copper deposits and the development of mining in the Keweenaw.

John Gierke, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences nominated Carn for the award.

According to Gierke, Carn, “was a leading scientist in the application of sensors on the satellites forming what is called the Afternoon Constellation or ‘A-Train’ to Earth observations and specifically to volcanology.

“Simon possesses a unique knack for compiling and presenting information on satellite sensors and volcanic processes in visually appealing ways and for making compelling arguments in support of scientific observations of volcanoes.”

Quoting from the NASA website that features the A-Train, “This coordinated group of satellites … are in a polar orbit, crossing the equator … within seconds to minutes of each other. This allows near-simultaneous observations of a wide variety of parameters to aid the scientific community in advancing our knowledge of Earth-system science and applying this knowledge for the benefit of society.“

Carn joined the faculty of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences as an assistant professor in 2008. He came to Michigan Tech from the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He holds a PhD in volcanology from the University of Cambridge, UK, a DEA in volcanology and magmatic processes from the Université Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrant, France and a BA in geology from the University of Oxford, UK.

He has received multiple research grants totaling more than $2.8 million from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, the Royal Society and the European Union.

Simon Carn on a volcano
Simon Carn on Yasur volcano, Vanuatu in August 2014.

He has taught, lectured and supervised students since 1994 at Michigan Tech and across the world at the International Volcanological Field School in Russia, Cambridge University, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and at international workshops in France, Italy, Iceland, Indonesia, Singapore and Costa Rica.

Carn has been a member of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior and the American Geophysical Union since 1994. He recently served on a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Improving Understanding of Volcanic Eruptions.

His current research focus is the application of remote sensing data to studies of volcanic degassing, volcanic eruption clouds and anthropogenic pollution. His main focus: SO2, a precursor of sulfate aerosol, which plays an important role in the atmosphere through negative climate forcing and impacts on cloud microphysics.

Carn has been a member of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior and the American Geophysical Union since 1994. He recently served on a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Improving Understanding of Volcanic Eruptions.

His current research focus is the application of remote sensing data to studies of volcanic degassing, volcanic eruption clouds and anthropogenic pollution. His main focus: SO2, a precursor of sulfate aerosol, which plays an important role in the atmosphere through negative climate forcing and impacts on cloud microphysics.

"We were measuring the volcanic gas emissions from Yasur, one of the biggest sources of volcanic gas on Earth.We were specifically interested in measuring the emissions of carbon dioxide from the volcano, to improve estimates of global volcanic CO2 emissions"Simon Carn

Seven questions with Volcanologist Simon Carn