Dr Pablo Tierz Lopez

Statistical multi-hazard geologist
BGS Edinburgh


Volcanoes kill. My work focuses on using geological and geophysical data to (1) interpret how volcanic systems operate and (2) inform physical and statistical models of volcanic processes, primarily pyroclastic density currents and lahars. The combination of data and models allows me to quantify volcanic hazard, including the associated uncertainties. I have carried out volcanic hazard assessments for volcanoes in Italy, Ethiopia, Mexico, Indonesia and Guatemala. I like to think that my work contributes to disaster risk reduction because comprehensive hazard assessments are a key element for education, communication and decision making in the context of volcanic hazard and risk. For me, the bottom line is trying to help save lives around volcanoes.

Pablo Tierz Lopez’s Biography

  • 2019 –2019 : (Feb-Apr) Visiting researcher: Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI), Durham, NC, USA. Research topic: strengthening my knowledge about the principles, implementation and application of statistical emulators to quantify aleatory and epistemic uncertainties in the context of probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment.
  • 2019 – ongoing : Permanent staff, BGS: Statistical Multihazard Geologist.
  • 2017 –2019 : Post-Doctoral Research Associate, BGS Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh, RiftVolc project. Research topic: Probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment at data-poor volcanoes, in particular in the Main Ethiopian Rift (Aluto and/or Corbetti calderas).
  • 2015 : (Aug-Dec) Visiting scholar: School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, UK. Research topic: Use of Bayesian Belief Networks to model uncertainty in volcanic hazard, with emphasis on multi-hazard assessments (i.e. tephra fallout, PDCs and lahars).
  • 2014 : (90 days) Visiting scholar: Italian Civil Protection (DPC), Roma, Italy. Research topic: Getting to know the structure and working procedures of the DPC and links between scientists and decision makers.
  • 2014 –2017 : PhD in Geophysics, Università di Bologna/INGV Bologna. Thesis: Modelling uncertainty in volcanic hazards with focus on Pyroclastic Density Currents from Neapolitan volcanoes.
  • 2013 : (Aug-Dec) Visiting J1 scholar: Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University at Buffalo, NY, USA. Research topic: Coupling TITAN2D with diverse uncertainty quantification techniques (PCQ, Bayesian emulator) to quantify volcanic hazard of PDCs.
  • 2013 –2014 : Marie Curie Early-Stage Researcher, INGV Bologna, NEMOH project. Research topic: Bayesian Probabilistic Volcanic Hazard Assessment.
  • 2011 –2012 : Early-Stage Researcher, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain. Research topic: Petrology and geochemistry of mafic dikes in the Central Pyrenees (Spain).
  • 2010 –2011 : MSc in Geology, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain. Thesis: The lamprophyre dikes of the Panticosa pluton: petrological, geochemical and structural characterization.
  • 2004 –2010 : BSc in Geology, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain.

Research interests

ORCID: 0000000188899900

  • Uncertainty quantification of volcanic processes and probabilistic volcanic (multi) hazard assessment.
  • Main factors which control the generation and transport of pyroclastic density currents and lahars: triggering mechanisms, general mobility, spatio-temporal evolution of the flow (thickness, speed, erosion-sedimentation, decoupling), etc.
  • Volcano monitoring, definition of volcanic unrest and probabilistic eruption forecasting.
  • Magma physico-chemical properties from magma storage to eruptive conditions.
  • Interrelationship between tectonics and magma generation, migration and emplacement.
  • Global volcanism and objective selection of analogue volcanoes.


Key papers


  • Statistical modelling to quantify uncertainty: Monte Carlo methods, probabilistic graphical models (Bayesian event trees and Bayesian networks), Polynomial Chaos Quadrature, statistical emulators, structured expert judgment techniques.
  • Simplified physical modelling of pyroclastic density currents: Energy Cone and TITAN2D.
  • Data processing and analysis (e.g. Matlab).
  • Interpretation of geological, geophysical and geochemical data and its incorporation into volcanic hazard models.
  • Supervised field data acquisition; rock processing techniques; petrological and geochemical analyses (ion microprobe, (Laser-)ICP-MS); AMS measurements (KLY-3S Agico KappaBridge).


  • Operating systems: Windows, Linux.
  • Programming languages: Matlab, Bash scripting, R (basics), Python (basics), C/C++, Java.
  • Volcano physical models: Energy Cone, TITAN2D, LaharFlow (basics).
  • Bayesian models: BET_VH, Netica, Bayes Net Toolbox for Matlab.
  • GIS: Quantum GIS.
  • Geochemical modelling: MELTS, PHREEQC (basics).
  • Text processing: LaTeX, LibreOffice, Microsoft Word.


  • 2015 : PhD mobility grant: Marco Polo program, Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di Bologna, Italy.
  • 2013 –2014 : Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship: Early-Stage Researcher

Boards and committees

  • Guest Associate Editor for Frontiers in Earth Science
  • Reviewer for Bulletin of Volcanology
  • Reviewer for Frontiers in Earth Science
  • Reviewer for Journal of Applied Volcanology
  • Reviewer for Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
  • Reviewer for Natural Hazards

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