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Current Research Projects

Current Research Projects


IMPROVE is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA). IMPROVE is a highly cooperative multi-disciplinary network of European Research Institutes and Small-Medium Enterprises. In IMPROVE, 15 Early Stage Researchers are trained to do innovative research in volcano science extending across the academia-industry bridge, and including cooperative work, leadership skills, and independent thinking. Volcano science includes from innovative monitoring and prospecting to advanced lab experiments, High Performance Computing, and Artificial Intelligence.

Two volcanic areas provide ideal cases for relevant scientific advance and training-through-research: Mount Etna in Sicily, one of the most monitored volcanoes in the world and the place where to extend our understanding of active volcano dynamics; and the Krafla caldera in Iceland, site of a large geothermal circulation system largely exploited for energy production, and of a shallow magmatic intrusion which is catalyzing break-through research from all over the world.

For more information, visit: http://www.improve-etn.eu/


This project is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA).  The aim of SPIN project is to train 15 PhD candidates to develop novel views about the dynamic behaviour of Earth materials, and in particular how to observe them with the revolutionary new sensing systems at hand. The unique interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral network will enable PhDs to gain international expertise at excellent research institutions, with a meaningful exposure of each PhD to other disciplines and sectors, thus going far beyond the education at a single PhD programme. For further information on the project, please visit: http://spin-itn.eu

Marine Microseismicity

The North Atlantic Ocean sustains some of the most extreme weather and sea states that fluctuate with the changing storm tracks in response to climate variability. Ocean wave generated seismo-acoustic noise (microseism) contains valuable information about storm activity, sea state and atmospheric processes. In addition, the associated Rayleigh surface waves, coupling the water column and the solid Earth as they propagate from the deep ocean to land, are sensitive to changes in the ocean that are affecting their propagation, such as ocean water temperature. The project aims to investigate how the unique complementary information present in the seismo-acoustic noise wavefield can provide valuable insights on the changing North Atlantic environment and its long-term atmosphere-ocean-land coupling.


DEEP is financed through GEOTHERMICA, a cofund between the European Commission and various National Funding Agencies. It is closely aligned to its predecessor, the COSEISMIQ project, in terms of its overall goals.

The aim of this postdoctoral project is to better understand how to extract near borehole fault zone property information, using borehole DAS and geophone string data for a deep geothermal field.  The focus is to identify and study subtle features in wave propagation (e.g. non-linear and attenuation effects) that hold information about the physical conditions of near borehole faults. Data are already available to the project through other partners in the consortium. There is no field element to this work.  Experience in handling large seismological datasets is essential as is experience in numerical simulations of wave propagation. Previous experience in non-linear wave effects will be an advantage.


DIG (De-risking Ireland’s Geothermal energy potential)  is a major new geothermal energy research project funded by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Geological Survey Ireland under the SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2019. The project aims to investigate Ireland’s geothermal potential using a wide range of geophysical and geological techniques and from an island wide to local scale approach.


PORO-CLIM is looking at how Earth’s deep interior has affected global climate in the geological past. Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) are huge outpourings of lava accompanied by the voluminous release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The aim is to investigate why LIPs coincide with some of the most remarkable global climate changes and mass extinctions in Earth’s history. Specifically, asking whether our local LIP, the North Atlantic LIP, which comprises ancient volcanic eruptions from Giant’s Causeway to western Greenland, could have driven a natural global climate change event that is the closest deep-time analog of anthropogenic environmental change – though modern change is happening even faster. 

HERSK (HEkla Real-time Seismic monitoring networK)

An innovative, real-time monitoring system for Hekla Volcano in Iceland was installed by DIAS Geophysics in 2018 with the Iceland Met Office (IMO) as the local key partner. Hekla is one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Iceland and currently erupts about every 10 years. The next Hekla eruption is considered overdue and could be hazardous to air travel.

Hekla is seismically surprisingly quiet, resulting so far in a dangerously short pre-eruption warning time of only around one hour. The extreme weather environment has been a barrier to year-round real-time measurements, here we have developed a new cabled system concept to year-round real-time monitoring. This will lower the detection threshold of seismic events significantly. The result will be a better scientific understanding of the processes driving the evolution of pre-eruptive seismicity at Hekla and a substantial improvement in early warning capability.

The HERSK project is lead by Martin Möllhoff in collaboration with Chris Bean and has been awarded internationally peer reviewed Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) funding. A poster about the HERSK project can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.27536.25600

Contact: martin-at-dias.ie

Map of main volcanic centres on Iceland.
Site installation on Hekla


During Autumn 2018, the SEA-SEIS (Structure, Evolution And Seismicity of the Irish offshore) project recently deployed 18 Ocean Bottom Seismometers in the North Atlantic. Led by Prof. Sergei Lebedev, his research group intends to build cutting edge tomographic images of the geology beneath the North Atlantic to gain a better understanding of the geological structure and its evolution. For more info www.sea-seis.ie

Location of the deployed Ocean bottom Seismometers across the North Atlantic.
Deployment of an Ocean Bottom Seismometer.




The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an important issue facing society at present. Appropriately designed, district-scale geothermal heating systems can satisfy society’s “energy trilemma”, by providing a secure energy supply that is economical and environmentally sustainable. The ability to use geothermal resources to generate heat in urban areas where the demand is greatest has the potential to significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and to support national and EU sustainable energy policies. Potential deep geothermal resources in challenging, lower-enthalpy EU settings remain poorly understood and largely untapped.

The GEO-URBAN project aims to explore the potential for low enthalpy geothermal energy in urban environments. The project will focus on two target locations – Dublin, Ireland and Vallès, Catalonia, Spain – and will provide a feasibility analysis for the commercial development of deep geothermal resources in these regions.

GEO-URBAN will evaluate novel geophysical exploration and modelling techniques for urban areas, which will be applied at both test locations. Geophysical data collected during GEO-URBAN will feed into a commercialisation strategy for the exploitation of deep geothermal resources in challenging urban environments, which will draw upon existing knowledge and experience from partners in Denmark, where the deep geothermal heat industry is more established. This knowledge transfer will be reciprocated by the cross-transfer of detailed geological and hydrological data on fractured limestone lithologies in Ireland, which are of interest as ultra-deep geothermal targets in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe.


PACIFIC is a research project in the field of mineral exploration. The project aims at developing new exploration techniques that respect the environment and incur relatively low costs. Launched in June 2018, the project has received a funding of €3.2 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It is set to run for 36 months and is coordinated by Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA).

The Geophysics Section at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS):

  1. plays a role in the development of new methods for the extraction of reflected waves
  2. plays a role in the extraction, processing and interpretation of reflected phases from the passive experiment at Marathon
  3. undertakes full wavefield numerical simulations for testing new methodologies in body wave extraction.

For more infomation go to https://www.pacific-h2020.eu/


The European Network of Observatories and Research Infrastructures for Volcanology (EUROVOLC) is a H2020 Research and Innovation Project of the European Commission. It will construct an integrated and harmonized European volcanological community able to fully support, exploit and build-upon existing and emerging national and pan-European research infrastructures, including e-Infrastructures of the European Supersite volcanoes. The harmonization includes linking scientists and stakeholders and connecting still isolated volcanological infrastructures located at in situ volcano observatories (VO) and volcanological research institutions (VRIs). For more information please click here.

DIAS is a full partner of the EUROVOLC project.

Magnetotelluric (MT) fieldwork on Sao Miguel, Azores (Portugal)

During September 2018, the electromagnetic group of DIAS Geophysics completed a large scale field campaign on Fogo Volcano and Furnas Volcano on Sao Miguel to investigate the geo-electrical structure beneath both volcanic systems as a way of understanding their formation and current processes and also assessing the geothermal potential of the island.
This international project led by DIAS Geophysics collaborated with the University of Azores, University of Frankfurt and University of Lisbon.

Contact: chogg-at-cp.dias.ie and duygu-at-cp.dias.ie

Location map of the MT stations (red circles) on the island of Sao Miguel, Azores.
Aerial photo of Fogo volcano, Sao Miguel, Azores (Portugal)


Over the last decade induced seismicity has become an important topic of discussion, especially owing to the concern that industrial activities could cause damaging earthquakes. Large magnitude induced seismic events are a risk for the population and structures, as well as an obstacle for the development of new techniques for the exploitation of underground georesources. The problem of induced seismicity is particularly important for the future development of geothermal energy in Europe. Induced seismicity is an unwanted product of such industrial operations but, at the same time, induced earthquakes are also a required mechanism to increase the permeability of rocks, enhancing reservoir performances. Analysis of induced microseismicity allows to obtain the spatial distribution of fractures within the reservoir, which can help, not only to identify active faults that may trigger large induced seismic events, but also to optimize hydraulic stimulation operations and to locate the regions with higher permeability, enhancing energy production.

For more information, please visit: http://www.coseismiq.ethz.ch/en/home/

Integrated geophysical and geological study of the Porcupine Basin

Researchers at DIAS Geophysics Section currently focuses on the evolution of the Porcupine Seabight and Rockall Plateau in the Irish Atlantic offshore The researchers use geophysical (wide angle and multichannel seismic data, magnetics, gravity) and geological (borehole) data to image rocks below the seafloor (second image below) and understand how these areas formed through geological time. This includes looking at the petrological nature of the crust and uppermost mantle, the sedimentation patterns of offshore basins and the distribution of volcanism in the Irish offshore. This research helps evaluate hydrocarbon potential in the region and hence contributes to the future energy security and economic well-being of Ireland.

The topography of the seafloor and illustrates how far the territory of Ireland extends into the North Atlantic Ocean (marked by red polygon). The names correspond to geological features, such as extinct volcanoes and basins. Source: Marine Institute.

NW–SE seismic line through wells 26/28-1 and 26/28-1 penetrating the Connemara hydrocarbon discovery in a tilted fault block and showing the sedimentary structure (image of rocks below the seafloor) of the Porcupine Seabight interpreted on the 3D seismic data.
Source: D.W. Jones & J.R. Underhill (2011). Structural and stratigraphic evolution of the Connemara discovery, Northern Porcupine Basin: significance for basin development and petroleum prospectivity along the Irish Atlantic Margin. Petroleum Geoscience, vol. 17, pp. 365-384.

IGUANA: Investigating Geophysical Unrest At Sierra Negra

Sierra Negra volcano is one of the most active volcanoes on the Galapagos Islands, approximately 1,000 km west of continental Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are the manifestation of a mantle hot spot under the eastward-moving Nazca plate. Active volcanism is concentrated on the island of Isabela, where Sierra Negra volcano is located. Since March 2017, an increase of seismicity was recorded at one of the permanent seismic stations in the network of IGEPN in Ecuador. The increase ended on the 26th June 2018 when the volcano erupted. This sequence of events was recorded by the local network of 14 broadband seismic stations that we installed as part of the IGUANA project. Three stations are located inside the caldera to record near-field effects of the seismic waves, the other stations are located around the caldera.
The main aims of the project are:

  • to investigate the triggering response to dynamic stress perturbations
  • to provide a high-resolution spatio-temporal distribution of volcano-tectonic events
  • to determine what mechanisms caused the tremor observed preceding the eruption

The project is funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is a collaboration between the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), the Instituto Geofisico at the Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) in Quito, Ecuador, and the Galapagos National Park.

Contact: martin-at-dias.ie

Transporting a seismic station across the caldera of Sierra Negra.

Ocean and Tidal Modelling

Oceans play an important role in the Earth system. At DIAS Geophysics, ongoing research focuses on wind and buoyancy driven circulations as well as tidally driven circulations within our oceans. Collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) Swarm satellite mission is investigating the magnetic signatures of the ocean circulation systems. The motivation is that the ocean-induced magnetic field may provide a greater understanding of ocean circulations. 

A snapshot of the ocean surface elevations (in metres) generated by the tidal force

G.O.THERM.3D: a 3D atlas of temperature in Ireland’s subsurface

With the backdrop of climate change and Ireland’s reliance on fossil fuels, the need to exploit Ireland’s potential for secure, reliable and diverse indigenous renewable energy supply is immediate. The contribution of geothermal energy to the required energy transformation of Ireland has fallen behind targets and is far from realising its full potential. The G.O.THERM.3D project at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies proposes a novel approach to quantify and map temperature in Ireland’s crust in an integrated approach that simultaneously accounts for multiple geophysical and petrological datasets, where key rock properties are thermodynamically computed based on the temperature and bulk rock composition. Based on this integrative approach a new 3D temperature atlas for Ireland’s crust will be built with the aim of making it publicly available on an interactive online platform. It is envisaged that an interactive 3D temperature model would increase public awareness of geothermal energy, focus and encourage geothermal resource exploration and assist in the development of public policy on geothermal energy exploration, mapping, planning and exploitation.

Ireland uncovered: the hidden thermal anomalies beneath the surface we tread. Models of subsurface temperature can identify regions that contain high potential for geothermal energy. Granites buried beneath the surface produce large quantities of heat, which could be harnessed to reduce Ireland’s reliance on fossil fuels.