Edinburgh, sponges and a PhD

You might think I’m crazy, that after all this study all I want to do is go on and do more – and perhaps I am! Nevertheless, this September I will embark on the beginning of a 3.5 year research project up in Edinburgh. The title of the project word for word is: ‘Squeezing the sponge: the role of serpentinites in subduction zones’. Basically a serpentinite is a type of rock that forms on the sea floor and soaks up sea water and dissolved elements, just like a sponge in the bath tub. If you stick a sponge down a subduction zone (where one tectonic plate slides beneath another) you squeeze it and if the sponge goes deep enough it becomes dry. My PhD is essentially looking at what comes out of the sponge and what gets left behind. This is important because subduction zones produce very violent volcanoes, such as Mount Pinatubo, and understanding the source of this violence is key to reducing the risk they impose on people.

One of the best things about my PhD, however, is that I get to do fieldwork! I am collecting ocean floor serpentinites from the Alps (believe it or not they’ve been through the squeezing process and come out the other side!) and possibly Japan, to collect mantle serpentinites.

And, as well as having all of the fieldwork paid for me, my laboratory costs paid for me, I also get a tax-free stipend of £14,000 pa which isn’t bad for a first job I guess!

My next blog will be about the application process and my experience of PhD interviews with some survival tips!


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About Eleri

Eleri has now graduated from the University of Leicester. Hello! My name is Eleri Simpson and I'm a 4th (and final!) year geology student at the University of Leicester. The parts of my course that I love the most are: mapping, igneous and metamorphic processes, geochemistry and volcanology. Outside of learning I'm part of the First Aid society and the University concert band, where I play the clarinet. I enjoy evenings at the pub, cooking, walking in the countryside and a good cup of tea.

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2 responses to “Edinburgh, sponges and a PhD”

  1. Mellinda

    Can you please write about your PhD applications already! 🙂

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