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Dr Sue Mahony

Dr Sue Mahony

Dr Sue Mahony
PhD, MSci

Honorary Senior Research Associate

Area of research

Development and analysis of a database of volcanic ash layers from ocean drilling cores as a record of global explosive volcanism.

Office G42
School of Earth Sciences,
Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road BS8 1RJ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 5366


My current research project aims to create a global database of volcanic ash layers found in IODP/ODP/DSDP cores, including information on the thickness of each layer, an age estimation and a good understanding of the associated uncertainties.  Essentially a database of this nature can be translated as a time series of volcanic eruptions of varying magnitude.  With this information we will be able to look at global rates of volcanism back several tens of millions of years.  This will allow us to see how rates of volcanic activity compare with tectonic changes, glacial/interglacial cycles, and eventually link these findings to inform volcanic hazard models. 

Previous research interests have included developing probabilistic models for forecasting where new volcanic centres may form in central and southern Japan, volcanic-tectonic interactions in southern Japan, cladistic analysis to determine different 'types' of volcano, as well as time-series analysis of eruption repose intervals.


I gained my MSci Geology from Bristol in 2004, with my final year project analysing a time series of Vulcanian explosions at Sakurajima Volcano, Japan.  I later continued my studies at Bristol with a PhD (awarded 2009) which centred around investigating the spatial and temporal distribution of volcanoes in Japan, funded by NUMO.  I undertook cladistic analysis of the volcanoes in the Tohoku region, to determine if there are distinct 'types' of volcano, to perhaps suggest if one type of volcano is more hazardous than another for use in probabilistic forecasting.  This led to spatio-temporal probabilistic modelling of the volcanoes to suggest areas which were more likely to have new volcanoes form over varying timescales.  The third part of my PhD was investigating temporal and spatial changes in the volcanic activity in Kyushu, and looking for correlations with changes in the local and regional tectonics over the time scale of 15-0 Ma.

Currently I am a PDRA at Bristol creating a database of volcanic ash layers from IODP cores.


I lecture in the 'Frontiers' lecture course which introduces the students to current topical research.


  • Volcanology
  • Tectonics
  • Volcano databases
  • IODP
  • Marine tephra identification



School of Earth Sciences

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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