Dr Samantha Louise Engwell


Location: Edinburgh

Tel: 0131 6500 406

E-mail Dr Samantha Louise Engwell


As a geologist and physical volcanologist, my interests lie in how information from the geological record can be brought together with numerical modelling techniques to understand the processes that occur during explosive volcanic eruptions. Such eruptions can be devastating, with the largest eruptions capable of spreading ash over continental-sized areas. My research utilises information gained from analysis of deposits from very large eruptions, such as that of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption 39 000 years ago, to understand how ash gets into the atmosphere and how it is dispersed. This information is used in the development, application and validation of numerical models to simulate volcanic plume formation and ash dispersion with the aim to investigate potential implications on aviation, and on deposition of ash, infrastructure and populations.


  •  2015 – ongoing : Volcanologist focusing on the physical processes that occur during explosive eruptions
  •  2013 –2015 : Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher: INGV Pisa. Application of numerical models to investigate the formation and rise of coignimbrite plumes
  •  2009 –2013 : PhD, University of Bristol: The dynamics of large explosive eruptions
  •  2008 –2009 : MSc by Research, Natural Hazards. University of Bristol
  •  2004 –2008 : BSc (Honours) 1st class, Geology, University of Edinburgh

Research interests

  • Physical volcanology, particularly volcanic plumes, lahars and pyroclastic density currents
  • Physical characterisation of volcanic eruptive deposits (stratigraphy, grainsize and componentry)
  • Volcanic ash and gas dispersion
  • Application of spatial statistical methods for analysis of deposit trends
  • Numerical modelling of explosive volcanic processes
  • Evaluation and assessment of model input parameters
  • Application of sensitivity analysis and uncertainty quantification for model evaluation


  • Numerical modelling: Pyroclastic Density Currents (Implementation of Bursik & Woods 1996 Model); Volcanic Mud flows (TITAN2D & LAHARZ ); Volcanic eruption columns (PlumeMOM); Ash fall (TEPHRA2 & VOL-CALPUFF)
  • Tephra identification, analysis and sampling from deep-sea cores
  • Fieldwork: Identifying, describing and mapping geological units
  • Preparation of geological samples for physical/ geochemical analysis (http://www.ed.ac.uk/geosciences/research/facilities/ionprobe/technical/epoxyresins)
  • Laser grain size analysis (Malvern Mastersizer 2000E)
  • Particle Morphology Analysis (Malvern Morphologi)


  • Geological Society of London President's Award 2015
  • Menzies Bicentennial Scholarship


  • Coding: CRAN R Statistics, FORTAN 90, MATLAB, LaTeX, C-shell Scripting, GMT
  • Model Sensitivity Analysis: DAKOTA
  • Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop

Professional association

  • Fellow of the Geological Society London
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union
  • Member of the European Geophysical Union

Key papers

Reconstructing the plinian and co-ignimbrite phases of large volcanic eruptions: a novel approach for the Campanian Ignimbrite A. Marti, A. Folch, A. Costa, and S. Engwell. Nature Scientific Reports.

Results of the eruption column model intercomparison exercise A. Costa, Y.J. Suzuki; M. Cerminara; B.J. Devenish; T. Esposti Ongaro; M. Herzog, A.R. Van Eaton, L.C. Denby; M. Bursik; M. de' Michieli Vitturi, S. Engwell, A. Neri, S. Barsotti; A. Folch, G. Macedonio; F. Girault, G. Carazzo, S. Tait, E. Kaminski; L.G. Mastin; M.J. Woodhouse, J.C. Phillips, A.J. Hogg; W. Degruyter, C. Bonadonna. (In Press: Journal of volcanology and geothermal research).

Uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis of volcanic columns models: results from the integral model PLUME-MoM M. de Michieli Vitturi, S. Engwell, A. Neri, and S. Barsotti. (Accepted: Journal of volcanology and geothermal research)

Deposits and dynamics of plumes associated with pyroclastic density current: importance for atmospheric ash dispersion and sedimentation S. Engwell & J. Eychenne (Accepted). In Volcanic Ash: Hazard Observation eds. by Shona Mackie, Hugo Ricketts, Matt Watson, Kathy Cashman and Alison Rust

Cubic B-splines: an objective method for producing isopach maps and estimating tephra deposit volumes and their uncertainties S. Engwell, W.P. Aspinall, R.S.J. Sparks, Bulletin of Volcanology 77:61, 2015.

Constraints on tephra dispersal from andesitic subplinian explosions of Shinmoedake volcano, Kirishima, Japan, on 26-27 January 2011 Maeno, F., Nagai, M., Burden, R., Engwell, S.L., Suzuki, Y., Kaneko, T. Bulletin of Volcanology, 76:6, 2014.

Physical characteristics of ash layers in the deep-sea realm: The Campanian Ignimbrite eruption Engwell, S.L., Sparks, R.S.J., Carey, S.N., GSL Special Edition: Marine Tephrochronology; 398, doi.org/10.1144/SP398.7, 2014.

Quantifying uncertainties in the measurement of tephra fall thickness Engwell, S.L., Sparks, R.S.J., Aspinall, W.P., Journal of Applied Volcanology, 2:5, doi:10.1186/2191-5040-2-5, 2013.