Several members of the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry research group attended the Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group (VMSG) annual conference at the start of January at the Leeds City Museum. The conference provides the opportunity for volcanic and magmatic researchers across the UK to meet and discuss their research, and to hear about what is happening in the field.
Presentations included studies of processes taking place in the mantle and in magma chambers, studies of past eruptions and the events leading up to them and studying volcanic gases in the atmosphere. Presentations were split into 4 sessions each with a slightly different focus and consisted of a series of talks during the day and posters in the evening.
I started my PhD in September 2017 so this was the first conference I had attended. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in but I felt welcome very quickly and really enjoyed the experience. I am investigating how halogen elements are recycled within the mantle by looking at the variation of halogen concentrations in different parts of the Icelandic mantle. It was great to hear about work other scientists are doing which relates to my project but also to learn about other projects and ideas I hadn’t encountered before. I presented a poster on my project and appreciated the opportunity to talk to others about my work, it’s great to get out of the office and have others interested in what you’re doing! After some initial nerves I began discussing my plans for my PhD with those that came by the poster, the conference provided a very friendly and encouraging environment to discuss my ideas.On the second day of the conference we had a dinner in the evening, providing a chance to chat further with those we had met. One thing I was surprised by was the amount of networking that would take place, I spoke to many PhD students (in some cases finally putting a face to a twitter name), researchers from many Universities across the country and even got a chance to catch up with colleagues from the University of Glasgow where I studied for my undergraduate degree.
After the conference there were workshops put on for PhD students. I attended the academic writing workshop where we discussed good practices for academic writing and the process of getting a paper published. The next day I took part in a diffusion modelling workshop where we learned about creating models of how elements move across crystal boundaries to fit real life data. This allows petrologists to infer information about what was happening in a magma chamber before an eruption took place.
As far as first conferences go VMSG was a great experience which has grown my research network and given me more confidence discussing my own work. Many thanks to the VMSG committee and local organising committee from the University of Leeds for running the conference and to everyone who attended who made us first-timers feel so welcome!