Advancing the understanding of volcanoes is the fundamental goal of the thematic program in volcanology at the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland. Volcanoes and their behaviour are studied across disciplines including petrology, geochemistry, geophysics and geology. Together, these research efforts are providing new views on how volcanoes work. Iceland, with its variety of volcanoes and frequent activity, is used as a natural laboratory to provide insights into fundamental processes that shape our planet. The research carried out is thus of relevance to the understanding of volcanic activity in diverse settings such as along the Earth’s mid-oceanic ridge system as well as at continental margins.

The thematic program is the basis for graduate studies in volcanology and the operation of the Nordic Volcanological Center within the Institute of Earth Sciences, a Nordic center for cooperation in volcanology and related fields.


The research efforts of the volcanology program broadly fall in two groups. Each research topic is approached by combining multidisciplinary observations with theoretical modelling. The research spans the generation and evolution of pockets of magma at depth in the mantle, their transport through the mantle and crust of the Earth, emplacement of magma within the crust or its catastrophic eruption to the surface, along with its environmental consequences.

Magmatic processes and volcanic systems

  • Magma generation
  • Magma transport
  • Magma chambers and intrusions
  • Volcanic systems
  • Magmatic-Tectonic interaction

Volcanic eruptions and environmental effects

  • Physics of volcanic processes
  • Eruption precursors
  • Eruptions
  • Eruptive products and eruption history
  • Local and global environmental effects
  • Volcanic Hazards and their mitigation