Position: Lecturer Field: Volcanology and Geo-education Organisation: Geological Sciences, College of Science, University of Canterbury

Dr Darren Gravley has a New Zealand mother and an American father. He grew up in Southern California and completed his BA at Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles.

He moved to New Zealand 11 years ago where he completed his PhD from Canterbury University. Until recently, Darren has been a research volcanologist and colleague of Dr Jan Lindsay and Dr Phil Shane in the School of Environment, University of Auckland. He has now returned as a lecturer to the University of Canterbury.

At a very young age, Darren and 2 friends had the opportunity to go on field trips to several famous geological places in the United States – Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Death Valley. Having experienced those remarkable geological landscapes, it was understandable that Darren and his friends all became geologists.

Darren's research is focused on the accumulation of large magma bodies, the processes of caldera eruptions and pyroclastic flows, and the geologic context for geothermal systems.

Currently, Darren is investigating the interplay between magmatism, tectonism and volcanism with specific emphasis on the Taupō Volcanic Zone flare-up that occurred between 240,000–340,000 years ago. During this period, approximately 3,000 cubic kilometres of magma erupted from at least 7 different caldera sources, and there is evidence that some of the eruptions overlapped in time.

Darren’s research is closely linked with geothermal energy and exploration, and he works closely with New Zealand geothermal companies. He is also a leading expert in geoscience field education and directs the Frontiers Abroad programmes in Earth and environmental sciences.

This article is based on information current in 2010.

    Published 9 April 2010