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Dr Ricardo Dos Santos Ramalho

Dr Ricardo Dos Santos Ramalho

Dr Ricardo Dos Santos Ramalho
BSc(Lisbon), MSc(Lisbon), PhD(Bristol)

Research Fellow

Area of research

Origins and evolution of ocean island volcanoes

Wills Memorial Building,
Queens Road, Clifton BS8 1RJ
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+44 (0) 117 33 15141


My research focuses on the origins and evolution of ocean island volcanoes. My aim is to understand how island volcanoes grow and decay, at different time and spatial scales, and how that evolution reflects the holistic interaction between surface processes and deep earth mechanisms. My work also considers the hazard potential associated with island volcanoes, particularly how their gravitational collapse may trigger tsunamis that are theoretically capable of trans-oceanic devastation. I aim to establish the scale of risk associated with these events, drawing knowledge from one of the largest megatsunamis known from the geological record.

My work straddles the interface between volcanic field geology, geomorphology, stratigraphy, and sedimentology. I essentially combine detailed field observations with isotopic geochronology – such as Ar/Ar, U-Th, and cosmogenic 3He – to reconstruct the 4D evolution of ocean island volcanoes and their landscapes, followed by modelling to investigate the link between that evolution and its driving forces.


I graduated in Geology by Lisbon University in Portugal (2001) where I also completed a MSc in Dynamic Geology (2004) about volcano-stratigraphy, tectonics and geomorphology of Madeira Island (Portugal). Between 2002 and 2004 I have worked for Madeira University (Portugal) as a fulltime field geologist for the project that lead to the publication of the new geological mapping of Madeira Island, on the scale 1/50 000. During a short but very intense period bewteen January and October 2005 I have worked as project geologist for Iberian Resources Ltd, an Australian-based mineral exploration company with projects in Portugal. During this period I have worked on gold exploration on the Portuguese Proterozoic and Palaeozoic. In October 2005 I moded to Bristol where I worked on my PhD with Professors George Helffrich and Derek Vance, on the evolution of Cape Verde Archipelago, with a special emphasis on long-term uplift reconstructions using sea-level tracers. On 2011 I was awarded with the Springer Thesis Award for my work on the Cape Verdes. After the completion on my PhD, I briefly stayed in Bristol as a postdoc, after which I moved to Münster (Germany) where I worked as postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Geophysics, focusing on ocean island uplift of the Azores Island region. Subsequently I undertook a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University, New York) as my Outgoing host and Bristol University as my Return host. During this fellowship I worked on how island isostasy can be used to understand volcanic island growth processes, and how volcanic island flank collapses are capable of triggering highly devastating megatsunamis. I am currently a Research Fellow at Instituto Dom Luiz, University of Lisbon, with honorary status at Bristol, where I carry out part of my research.




I have worked as teaching assistant on courses spanning Environmental Geoscience Fieldwork, Independent Mapping Project, Introduction to Field Mapping, Physical Volcanology, Applied Geophysics, Economic Geology, Research Methods, and 1st year Geology Field Trip.


  • geology
  • volcanology
  • geomorphology
  • geodynamics
  • igneous processes
  • geochronology
  • natural hazards

Selected publications

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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