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Allan Lerner

I work in the USGS volcanic gas geochemistry group as a Physical Science Technician, where I measure gases at volcanoes to monitor activity and understand volcanic processes. I have monitored volcanic gases in Alaska, the Cascades, and Hawaii, as well as internationally with the Volcanic Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP).

Changes in volcanic gases being emitted from volcanoes can presage volcanic unrest and possible eruptions. Gases are therefore an important monitoring tool for tracking volcanic activity.

Working with the USGS Volcano Emissions Project (VEP), I utilize both direct gas sampling (physically collecting and analyzing gases) and remote sensing (e.g., ultraviolet spectroscopy) of volcanic gases to characterize volcanic gas emissions. Accessing volcanic degassing sites is often very challenging, and my work is done by foot, car, boat, helicopter, and airplane. Once I have collected and analyzed gas measurements, I compare them to historical records of volcanic gas emissions and link them to petrology to better understand volcanic processes.

My work with the USGS has spanned from the far western Aleutian Islands, to the Cascades, and Hawaii. Volcanoes that I have particularly focused on include Makushin (AK), Augustine (AK), Mount St Helens (WA), and Kilauea (HI). I have also worked with VDAP to help install gas monitoring equipment in Indonesia, working at Sinabung, Gamalama, and Ijen volcanoes.

Professional Experience

  • 2019 – Present: Physical Science Technician, USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, WA

  • 2020 - Present: Petrology Lab Manager and Research Scholar, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oregon, OR

  • 2018 – 2020: Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oregon, OR

  • 2015 – 2019: Graduate fellow, National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

  • 2013 – 2015: Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant, College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, OR

  • 2013: Volcanology Intern, Centro de Intercambio y Investigación en Vulcanología, Universidad de Colima, Mexico

  • 2012 – 2013: Gas Geochemistry Intern, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, HI

  • 2011 – 2012: Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM

  • 2009 – 2010: Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Amherst College, MA

Education and Certifications

  • 2020 PhD, University of Oregon
    “The Depths and Locations of Magma Reservoirs and their  Consequences for the Behavior of Sulfur and Volcanic Degassing"

  • 2015 MSc, Oregon State University, OR      
    “Tracking Volatile Evolution in Magma Chambers using Zircon-Hosted Melt Inclusions: A Case Study of the 74 ka Youngest Toba Tuff, Sumatra"

  • 2010 B.A. Geology, Amherst College, MA
    "The Eruption Dynamics of the 8.5 ka Driftwood Pumice-fall, Makushin Volcano, Alaska"

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