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Patricia A. Nadeau

I am a volcanologist with a specialization in volcanic gases. Such gases are ultimately what drive volcanism and can give precursory signals in advance of eruptions. My research involves studying the amounts, behavior, and chemistry of those gases, with a goal of improving our understanding of their role in volcanic activity.

Over the course of my career as a volcanologist, I have worked on a wide range of projects. But the common factor between all of them is volcanic volatiles, otherwise known as volcanic gases. My research goal has always been to better understand how those volcanic gases behave in volcanic systems, before, during, and after eruption. This has meant that I’ve gotten to study how volcanic gas plumes interact with topography and vegetation in Nicaragua; the chemistry of tiny amounts of volatiles trapped within rocks erupted tens of thousands of years ago in Alaska; connections between escaping gas, seismicity, and explosive eruptions in Guatemala; and even how different volatiles dissolve in magma when you create your own tiny, high-temperature molten rock in a laboratory.

Here at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, my focus is still volcanic gases. HVO routinely monitors gas emissions from Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes using a range of permanent measurement stations and portable instrumentation. In addition to monitoring, I conduct research on gas chemistry using MultiGAS sensors, FTIR spectroscopy, and direct sampling. For research on gas emission rates, I use UV spectrometers and UV cameras. Recently, I have also been involved in new initiatives at HVO to use UAS (unoccupied aircraft systems) to measure gas chemistry, emission rates, and sample volcanic plumes, as well as to sample the short-lived water lake at Kīlauea summit. I also use measurements of volatiles still dissolved in rock and mineral samples to supplement my work on gas emissions.

I spent a number of years as an educator before arriving at HVO and very much value science education, especially for young students. So, in addition to my research and monitoring efforts at HVO, I participate in a number of outreach activities with students of all ages.

Professional Experience

  • Research Geologist – USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Hilo, HI; 2018 – present)

  • Visiting Assistant Professor – Ohio University (Athens, OH)

  • Temporary Assistant Professor – Salem State University (Salem, MA)

  • Kathryn W. Davis Research and Education Fellow – American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)

  • Hydrologic Technician – USGS New York Water Science Center (Troy, NY)

Education and Certifications

  • Michigan Technological University, Ph.D. – Geology

  • Simon Fraser University, M.Sc. – Earth Sciences

  • McGill University, B.Sc. Hons. – Earth Sciences

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