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"Apocalyptic volcanic super eruption which could DESTROY civilisation is closer than we thought, say experts" (Daily Mail)

Jonathan Rougier, University of Bristol
9-10am  6th Feb 2020


Hazards tend to be summarized in terms of their frequency/magnitude curve.  For explosive volcanic eruptions, a supereruption at the top end of the magnitude range is large enough to return us to a "pre-civilisation state", but even a large eruption poses a serious hazard for a country. Inferring the global frequency/magnitude curve from the volcanic record is complicated, because the record is unreliable going back more than a few hundred years.  In this talk I will look at the maths of the frequency/magnitude curve, show and discuss the curve we fitted for large explosive volcanic eruptions, and describe the response of the media to our results.

Short Bio

Jonathan Rougier is an applied statistician who works across the full range of theoretical, applied, and computational statistics.  His original training was in Economics (up to PhD level). After graduating from the University of Durham with a 1st class BSc in Economics (1988), he worked for two years as an economist for a large fund-management company.  He then returned to Durham as a Lecturer in Economics (1990), completing a PhD in 1996.
In 1997 he transferred to Mathematics at Durham to work as a Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof Michael Goldstein, in the area known as ‘Design and Analysis of Computer Experiments’.  In 2007 he took up a Lectureship in the School of Mathematics at the University of Bristol, being promoted to Reader in 2012 and to Professor in 2016 (Professor of Statistical Science).  Since coming to Bristol he has collaborated extensively across the Faculties of Science and Engineering, including in volcanology, glaciology and palaeoclimate reconstruction, flooding, and in the more general area of uncertainty and risk assessment.  He has worked with several UK Government departments and agencies, and also with non-profit organizations and SMEs.


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