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Impact Case Studies

Preparing for volcanic eruptions

When a volcanic eruption occurs that ejects ash and gas into the atmosphere, the questions that are immediately asked by both the public and disaster management and health agencies are "Is it harmful to breathe this air?" and "How can I protect myself?" Communities living near active volcanoes, and the agencies protecting them, require evidence-based advice on how to reduce exposure to volcanic emissions, in order to reduce the risk of respiratory diseases and associated symptoms. Over the past decade, Professor Claire Horwell’s group has studied how communities can protect themselves from potentially harmful volcanic emissions. Their research has investigated the physical and chemical characteristics of ash, community risk perceptions, and the effectiveness of respiratory protection. This has generated critical evidence and techniques, leading to the production of both global and community-specific advice in the form of printable and audio-visual informational products, endorsed by international, national and provincial NGOs and governmental agencies (GOs). These are mass distributed during eruption crises, resulting in increased awareness of suitable protective strategies and individual behaviour change.

Economic metal resources

Metal resources underpin industry, technology, and the transition to renewable energy sources. Research by Professor Dave Selby’s group has developed isotope geochemical techniques to fingerprint the age and source of mineralisation of economic metal deposits. The geochemical toolbox uses rhenium–osmium radioisotopes to constrain the geochronology of formation of mineral deposits. This allows the development of more accurate geological models for extractive industry, permits improved reserve estimates, and minimises the environmental impacts of global exploration.