Alexa Van Eaton, PhD


My work focuses on active eruption dynamics and volcanic processes preserved in the geologic record. I'm particularly interested in the behavior of volcanic plumes and how we can bring together diverse techniques (textural analysis of pyroclastic deposits, remote sensing, modeling, geophysics) to tackle a range of interesting problems in physical volcanology.

Some current projects include:

  • Volcanic lightning as a tool to investigate eruption dynamics and hazards in near-real time
  • Stratigraphy of eruptive processes at Cascades volcanoes, including Mount St. Helens and Glacier Peak
  • Quantifying mass eruption rates using satellite detection of umbrella cloud growth
  • Numerical modeling of volcanic plume dynamics, atmospheric transport, and fallout
  • Experiments and field-based studies of ash aggregation to characterize the lifetime of volcanic clouds

Presently co-leading the IAVCEI Commission on Tephra Hazard Modeling


Personal webpage



Since 2017   Research Geologist, USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

2015-2017    USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow

2013-2015    NSF Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow (link to award abstract)

2012             Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, Ph.D., Geology (link to dissertation)

2006             University of Florida, Gainesville, B.S. summa cum laude, Geology with English minor


Awards and honors

IAVCEI George Walker Award, 2017

John Gamble Award in Geology, 2011, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship, 2007-2010


Publications (see Google Scholar for updates)


Smith CM, Gaudin D, Van Eaton AR, Behnke SA, Reader S, Thomas RJ, Edens H, McNutt SR, Cimarelli C (2021). Impulsive volcanic plumes generate volcanic lightning and vent discharges: A statistical analysis of Sakurajima Volcano in 2015. Geophysical Research Letters, https://10.1029/2020gl092323

Aubry TJ, Engwell S, Bonadonna C, Carazzo G, Scollo S, Van Eaton AR, Taylor IA, Jessop D, Eychenne J, Gouhier M, Mastin LG, Wallace KL, Biass S, Bursik M, Grainger RG, Jellinek AM, Schmidt A (2021). The Independent Volcanic Eruption Source Parameter Archive (IVESPA, version 1.0): A new observational database to support explosive eruptive column model validation and development. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, https://10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2021.107295


Van Eaton AR, Schneider DJ, Smith CM, Haney MM, Lyons JJ, Said R, Fee D, Holzworth RH, Mastin LG (2020). Did ice-charging generate volcanic lightning during the 2016–2017 eruption of Bogoslof volcano, Alaska?: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 80, no. 24, doi: 10.1007/s00445-00019-01350-00445.

Mastin LG, Van Eaton AR (2020). Comparing Simulations of Umbrella-Cloud Growth and Ash Transport with Observations from Pinatubo, Kelud, and Calbuco Volcanoes: Atmosphere, v. 11, no. 10, p. 1038, doi: 10.3390/atmos11101038.

Mastin LG, Van Eaton AR, Schwaiger HF (2020). A probabilistic assessment of tephra-fall hazards at Hanford, Washington, from a future eruption of Mount St. Helens: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1133, 54 p.

Haney MM, Van Eaton AR, Lyons JJ, Kramer RL, Fee D, Iezzi AM, Dziak RP, Anderson J, Johnson JB, Lapierre JL, Stock M (2020). Characteristics of thunder and electromagnetic pulses from volcanic lightning at Bogoslof Volcano, Alaska: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 82, no. 15, doi: 10.1007/s00445-019-1349-y.

Schneider DJ, Van Eaton AR, Wallace KL (2020). Satellite observations of the 2016–2017 eruption of Bogoslof volcano: aviation and ash fallout hazard implications from a water-rich eruption: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 82, no. 3, doi: 10.1007/s00445-020-1361-2.

Romero JE, Aguilera F, Delgado F, Guzmán D, Van Eaton AR, Luengo N, Caro J, Bustillos J, Guevara A, Holbik S, Tormey D, Zegarra I (2020). Combining ash analyses with remote sensing to identify juvenile magma involvement and fragmentation mechanisms during the 2018/19 small eruption of Peteroa volcano (Southern Andes): Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 402, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.106984.

Fee D, Lyons J, Haney M, Wech A, Waythomas C, Diefenbach AK, Lopez T, Van Eaton AR, Schneider D (2020). Seismo-acoustic evidence for vent drying during shallow submarine eruptions at Bogolsof volcano, Alaska: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 82, no. 2, doi: 10.1007/s00445-019-1326-5.

Gestrich JE, Fee D, Tsai VC, Haney MM, Van Eaton AR (2020). A Physical Model for Volcanic Eruption Tremor: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, v. 125, no. 10, p. e2019JB018980, doi: 10.1029/2019jb018980.

Lopez T, Clarisse L, Schwaiger H, Van Eaton AR, Loewen M, Fee D, Lyons J, Wallace KL, Searcy C, Wech A, Haney M, Schneider D, Graham N (2020). Constraints on eruption processes and event masses for the 2016–2017 eruption of Bogoslof volcano, Alaska, through evaluation of IASI satellite SO2 masses and complementary datasets: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 82, no. 17, doi: 10.1007/s00445-019-1348-z.

Webster HN, Devenish BJ, Mastin LG, Thomson DJ, Van Eaton AR (2020). Operational Modelling of Umbrella Cloud Growth in a Lagrangian Volcanic Ash Transport and Dispersion Model: Atmosphere, v. 11, no. 2, p. 200, 10.3390/atmos11020200.



KA Hargie, AR Van Eaton, LG Mastin, RH Holzworth, JW Ewert, M Pavolonis (2019). Globally detected volcanic lightning and umbrella dynamics during the 2014 eruption of Kelud, Indonesia, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Reserach, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2018.10.016.

SJ Barker, AR Van Eaton, LG Mastin, CJN Wilson, MA Thompson, TM Wilson, C Davis, JA Renwick (2019). Modeling ash dispersal from future eruptions of Taupo supervolcano: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 20, no. 7, p. 3375–3401.

RB Waitt, JJ Major, RP Hoblitt, AR Van Eaton, MA Clynne (2019). Field trip guide to Mount St. Helens, Washington—Recent and ancient volcaniclastic processes and deposits: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5022–E, 68 p.

V Etyemezian, JA Gillies, LG Mastin, A Crawford, R Hasson, AR Van Eaton, G Nikolich (2019). Laboratory Experiments of Volcanic Ash Resuspension by Wind: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, v. 124, no. 16, p. 9534–9560.



MM Haney, AR Van Eaton, JJ Lyons, RL Kramer, D Fee, AM Iezzi (2018). Volcanic thunder from explosive eruptions at Bogoslof volcano, Alaska, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2017GL076911.

CM Smith, AR Van Eaton, S Charbonnier, SR McNutt, SA Behnke, RJ Thomas, HE Edens, G Thompson (2018). Correlating the electrification of volcanic plumes with ashfall textures at Sakurajima Volcano, Japan, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.03.052.

R Grapenthin, S Hreinsdóttir, AR Van Eaton (2018). Volcanic hail detected with GPS: The 2011 eruption of Grímsvötn volcano, Iceland, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1029/2018gl080317.

AN Seligman, I Bindeman, AR Van Eaton, R Hoblitt (2018). Isotopic insights into the degassing and secondary hydration of volcanic glass from the 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens, Bulletin of Volcanology, doi: 10.1007/s00445-018-1212-6.

SA Behnke, HE Edens, RJ Thomas, CM Smith, SR McNutt, AR Van Eaton, C Cimarelli, V Cigala (2018). Investigating the origin of continual radio frequency impulses during explosive volcanic eruptions, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, doi: 10.1002/2017JD027990.

CM Smith, AR Van Eaton, R Said, RH Holzworth (2018). Volcanic lightning as a monitoring tool during the 2016-2017 eruption of Bogoslof volcano, AK: in Proceedings of the International Lightning Detection Conference & International Lightning Meteorology Conference, 12–15 March 2018, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, 5 p. [Link to PDF]

J Lapierre, AR Van Eaton, M Stock, MM Haney, JJ Lyons (2018). Remote measurements of volcanic plume electrification using a sparse network technique: in Proceedings of the WMO Technical Conference on Meteorological and Environmental Instruments and Methods of Observation, 8–11 October 2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 5 p. [Link to PDF]



D Fee, MM Haney, RS Matoza, AR Van Eaton, P Cervelli, DJ Schneider (2017). Volcanic tremor and plume height hysteresis from Pavlof Volcano, Alaska. Science, doi: 10.1126/science.aah6108.

NW Dunbar, NA Iverson, AR Van Eaton, M Sigl, BV Alloway, AV Kurbatov, LG Mastin, JR McConnell & CJN Wilson (2017). New Zealand supereruption provides time marker for the Last Glacial Maximum in Antarctica, Nature Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017 11758-0.

JS Pallister, MA Clynne, HM Wright, AR Van Eaton, JW Vallance, DR Sherrod, BP Kokelaar (2017). IAVCEI field trip guide to Mount St. Helens—An overview of the eruptive history and petrology, tephra deposits, 1980 pyroclastic deposits and the crater. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5022–D, 65 p, doi:



AR Van Eaton, Á Amigo, D Bertin, LG Mastin, RE Giacosa, J González, O Valderrama, K Fontijn, SA Behnke (2016). Volcanic lightning and plume dynamics reveal evolving hazards during the April 2015 eruption of Calbuco volcano, Chile. Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2016GL068076.

LG Mastin, AR Van Eaton, AJ Durant (2016). Adjusting particle-size distributions to account for aggregation in tephra-deposit model forecasts. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, doi: 10.5194/acp-2016-54.

JD Muirhead, AR Van Eaton, G Re, JDL White, MH Ort (2016). Monogenetic volcanoes fed by interconnected dikes and sills in the Hopi Buttes volcanic field, Navajo Nation, USA. Bulletin of Volcanology, doi: 10.1007/s00445-016-1005-8.

YJ Suzuki, A Costa, M Cerminara, T Esposti Ongaro, M Herzog, AR Van Eaton, LC Denby (2016). Inter-comparison of three-dimensional models of volcanic plumes. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.06.011.

A Costa, YJ Suzuki, M Cerminara, BJ Devenish, T Esposti Ongaro, M Herzog, AR Van Eaton, LC Denby, M Bursik, M de’MichieliVitturi, S Engwell, A Neri, S Barsotti, A Folch, G Macedonio, F Girault, G Carazzo, S Tait, E Kaminski, LG Mastin, MJ Woodhouse, JC Phillips, AJ Hogg, W Degruyter, C Bonadonna (2016). Results of the eruptive column model inter-comparison study. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.01.017.



Van Eaton AR, Mastin LG, Herzog M, Schwaiger HF, Schneider DJ, Wallace KLW and Clarke AB (2015). Hail formation triggers rapid ash aggregation in volcanic plumes. Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms8860. 

Harper MA, Pledger SA, Smith EGC, Van Eaton AR and Wilson CJN (2015). Eruptive and environmental processes recorded by diatoms in volcanically dispersed lake sediments from the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Journal of Paleolimnology, doi: 10.1007/s10933-015-9851-5. 

Houghton BF, White JDL and Van Eaton AR (2015). Phreatomagmatic and Related Eruption Styles, In BF Houghton, H Rymer, J Stix and S McNutt (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Volcanoes, 2nd Ed., pp. 537-532, doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-385938-9.00030-4. 


Before 2015

Mastin LG, Van Eaton AR and Lowenstern J (2014). Modeling ash fall distribution from a Yellowstone supereruption. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, doi: 10.1002/2014GC005469.

Van Eaton AR, Harper M and Wilson CJN (2013). High-flying diatoms: Widely dispersed microorganisms from an explosive volcanic eruption. Geology 41, 1187-1190.

Van Eaton AR and Wilson CJN (2013) Nature, origins and distribution of ash aggregation processes in a large-scale wet eruption. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 250, 129-154, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2012.10.016.

Van Eaton AR, Herzog M, Wilson CJN and McGregor J (2012) Ascent dynamics of large phreatomagmatic eruption clouds: The role of microphysics. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, B03203, doi: 10.1029/2011JB008892.

Van Eaton AR, Muirhead JD, Wilson CJN and Cimarelli C (2012) Growth of volcanic ash aggregates in the presence of liquid water and ice: An experimental approach. Bulletin of Volcanology 74, 1963-1984, doi: 10.1007/s00445-012-0634-9.

Van Eaton AR, Zimmerman AR, Jaeger JM, Brenner M, Kenney WF and Schmid JR (2010) A novel application of radionuclides for dating sediment cores from sandy, anthropogenically disturbed estuaries. Marine and Freshwater Research 6, 1268-1277, doi: 10.1071/MF10028.