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Dr David W McGarvie

Profile summary

  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences
  • dave.mcgarvie

Professional biography


A recent article in The Conversation on the current and ongoing eruption on the island of Hawai'i can be accessed for free at




Research Activity

My research uses volcanology to understand environmental and earth processes, often with a link to climate change.

I have a particular interest in exploring the growth and eruptive behaviour of volcanoes that were active during recent glacial periods, as this enables a better understanding of potential future eruption hazards, as well an appreciation of links between volcanic activity and climate change.

I have started a small project exploring links between ancient caldera volcanoes in Scotland and pyroclastic deposits preserved in contemporaneous lava piles.


Five current projects

  1. Investigating little-known volcanoes. Projects are currently underway at Tindfjallajökull volcano, Iceland (with collaborators at the British Geological Survey), and at Volcán Quetrupillán, Chile (with collaborators at the University of Edinburgh). 
  2. Explosive rhyolite eruption from Iceland's largest volcano to determine the cause(s) of explosivity and to determine the local impacts (e.g. flooding) and far-flung impacts (e.g. airspace closure due to ash clouds). OU PhD project started October 2013.
  3. Ar-Ar dating of subglacial volcanoes to provide information on thicknesses of Pleistocene ice sheets. (Manchester-OU PhD project started October 2012.)
  4. Volatile studies of subglacial rhyolites to better understand the mechanisms driving explosive eruptions (with collaborators at Lancaster University).
  5. The Thórólfsfell tuya, Iceland. With collaborators at Lancaster University.


​Papers in review

  • Jonathan D. Moles, Dave McGarvie, John A. Stevenson, Sarah C. Sherlock, Peter M. Abbott, Frances E. Jenner and Alison M. Halton. Widespread tephra dispersal and ignimbrite emplacement from a subglacial volcano: the rhyolite eruption of at Torfajökull volcano, Iceland, ~55 ka. Geology.
  • Graettinger, AH, Dave McGarvie, Ian Skilling, Armann Höskuldsson, and Kari Strand. Ice-confined construction of a large basaltic volcano - Austurfjöll massif, Askja, Iceland.  Bulletin of Volcanology.


Research interests

Volcanic eruptions into glaciers (Iceland and Chile).

Evolution of Icelandic volcanic systems (volcanological and geochemical).

Explosive rhyolite eruptions.


PhD students:


Isla Simmons (University of Edinburgh). Holocene eruptions at Quetrupillán volcano, Chile.


Jonathan Moles (based at OU). Tindfjallajökull volcano, Iceland.


** Completed PhDs below, current PhD students above **


Peter Nicholls (based at OU). Explosive volcanic eruptions from Iceland's largest volcanoes.


Dr Katy Street (based at Manchester). The timing of volcano-ice eruptions and deglaciation in Iceland.


Dr Jacqui Owen (based at Lancaster University). Volatiles in subglacial rhyolite eruptions.


Dr Alison Graettinger (based at University of Pittsburgh, USA). Building Ice-Age Askja


Dr Angela Walker (based at Manchester University). Glaciovolcanism at Öraefajökull stratovolcano, Iceland – a window into Quaternary climate change.


Dr Patricia Clay. 40Ar/39Ar dating of young volcanic rocks: Arcane isotopes and how to unravel them’.


Dr Stephanie Flude (based at University of Manchester). Timing and Timescales of Rhyolite Eruptions in Iceland.


Dr John Stevenson (based at Lancaster University). Ice-Magma Interactions during Subglacial Rhyolite Eruptions.


Dr Hugh Tuffen (based at Lancaster University). Subglacial Rhyolite Volcanism at Torfajökull, Iceland.


Impact and engagement

I appeared on the 2017 BBC Horizon programme 'Space Volcanoes'. As well as providing the BBC crew with Icelandic locations and logistics, I did some face-to-camera work see and
Advisory Panel - IAVCEI Commission on Volcano-Ice Interactions.
I was heavily involved in social (and conventional) media during the 2014-2015 Bárðarbunga volcano-seismic crisis which resulted in the largest eruption of lava in Iceland since the 1783 Laki eruption. My role was providing evidence-based scientific information to counter both media and scientific exaggerations.
I was involved with the media during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull and 2011 Grímsvötn eruptions.


Kīlauea, Hawai’i, puts on a ‘once-in-a-century’ show (2018-07-10)
Skilling, Ian and McGarvie, Dave
Geology Today, 34(4) (pp. 155-160)
Geology of Tindfjallajökull volcano, Iceland (2018-01-23)
Moles, Jonathan D.; McGarvie, Dave; Stevenson, John A. and Sherlock, Sarah C.
Journal of Maps, 14(2) (pp. 22-31)
Complex circular subsidence structures in tephra deposited on large blocks of ice: Varða tuff cone, Öræfajökull, Iceland (2016-08-01)
Smellie, J. L.; Walker, A. J.; McGarvie, D. W. and Burgess, R.
Bulletin of Volcanology, 78(8) (p 56)
40Ar/39Ar ages and residual volatile contents in degassed subaerial and subglacial glassy volcanic rocks from Iceland (2015-05-18)
Clay, P. L.; Busemann, H.; Sherlock, S. C.; Barry, T. L.; Kelley, S. P. and McGarvie, D. W.
Chemical Geology, 403 (pp. 99-110)
Remote sensing and geologic mapping of glaciovolcanic deposits in the region surrounding Askja (Dyngjufjöll) volcano, Iceland (2013-10)
Graettinger, A. H.; Ellis, M. K.; Skilling, I. P.; Reath, K.; Ramsey, M. S.; Lee, R. J.; Hughes, C. G. and McGarvie, D. W.
International Journal of Remote Sensing, 34(20) (pp. 7178-7198)
Subaqueous basaltic magmatic explosions trigger phreatomagmatism: a case study from Askja, Iceland (2013-08-15)
Graettinger, Alison H.; Skilling, Ian; McGarvie, Dave and Höskuldsson, Ármann
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 264 (pp. 17-35)
Explosive subglacial rhyolitic eruptions in Iceland are fuelled by high magmatic H2O and closed-system degassing (2013-02)
Owen, Jacqueline; Tuffen, Hugh and McGarvie, Dave
Geology, 41(2) (pp. 251-254)
Pseudopillow fracture systems in lavas: insights into cooling mechanisms and environments from lava flow fractures (2012-11-01)
Forbes, Anne; Blake, S.; McGarvie, D. W. and Tuffen, H.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 245-6 (pp. 68-80)
Using dissolved H2O in rhyolitic glasses to estimate palaeo-ice thickness during a subglacial eruption at Bláhnúkur(Torfajökull, Iceland) (2012-08)
Owen, Jacqueline; Tuffen, Hugh and McGarvie, Dave
Bulletin of Volcanology, 74(6) (pp. 1355-1378)
Intrusion of basalt into frozen sediments and generation of Coherent-Margined Volcaniclastic Dikes (CMVDs) (2012-03-01)
Graettinger, A. H.; Skilling, I. P.; McGarvie, D. and Höskuldsson, A.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 217 (pp. 30-38)
Rhyolites at Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland: The evolution and lifespan of silicic central volcanoes (2010)
Flude, Stephanie; McGarvie, David W.; Burgess, Ray and Tindle, Andrew G.
Bulletin of Volcanology, 72(5) (pp. 523-528)
Explosive rhyolite tuya formation: classic examples from Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland (2010)
Stevenson, John A.; Gilbert, Jennie S.; McGarvie, David W. and Smellie, John L.
Quaternary Science Reviews, 30(1-2) (pp. 192-209)
Palaeoenvironment reconstruction, volcanic evolution and geochronology of the Cerro Blanco subcomplex, Nevados de Chillán volcanic complex, central Chile (2009-10)
Mee, Katy; Gilbert, Jennie S.; McGarvie, David W.; Naranjo, José A. and Pringle, Malcolm S.
Bulletin of Volcanology, 71(8) (pp. 933-952)
Subglacial intermediate volcanism at Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland: magma–water interactions beneath thick ice (2009-09)
Stevenson, John A.; Smellie, John L.; McGarvie, David W.; Gilbert, Jennie S. and Cameron, Barry I.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 185(4) (pp. 337-351)
Rhyolitic volcano–ice interactions in Iceland (2009-09)
McGarvie, Dave
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 185(4) (pp. 367-389)
Silicic volcanism at Ljósufjöll, Iceland: insights into evolution and eruptive history from Ar–Ar dating (2008-02)
Flude, Stephanie; Burgess, Ray and McGarvie, Dave
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 169(3-4) (pp. 154-175)
An explosive–intrusive subglacial rhyolite eruption at Dalakvísl, Torfajökull, Iceland (2008)
Tuffen, H.; McGarvie, D. W.; Pinkerton, H.; Gilbert, J. S. and Brooker, R. A.
Bulletin of Volcanology, 70(7) (pp. 841-860)
Volcano-ice interactions at Prestahnúkur, Iceland: rhyolite eruption during the last interglacial-glacial transition (2007-10)
McGarvie, D. W.; Stevenson, J. A.; Burgess, R.; Tuffen, H. and Tindle, A. G.
Annals of Glaciology, 45(1) (pp. 38-47)
Will subglacial rhyolite eruptions be explosive or intrusive? Some insights from analytical models (2007-10)
Tuffen, H.; McGarvie, D. W. and Gilbert, J. S.
Annals of Glaciology, 45(1) (pp. 87-94)
Subglacial and ice-contact volcanism at the Öraefajökull stratovolcano, Iceland (2006-06)
Stevenson, John A.; McGarvie, David W.; Smellie, John L. and Gilbert, Jennie S.
Bulletin of Volcanology, 68(7-8) (pp. 737-752)
Pleistocene rhyolitic volcanism at the Torkfajökull central volcano, Iceland: eruption ages, ice-volcano interactions, and geochemical evolution (2006)
McGarvie, D. W.; Burgess, R.; Tindle, A. G.; Tuffen, H. and Stevenson, J. A.
Jökull, 56 (pp. 57-75)
Pleistocene rhyolitic volcanism at Torfajökull, Iceland: eruption ages, glaciovolcanism, and geochemical evolution (2006)
McGarvie, Dave W.; Burgess, Raymond; Tindle, Andrew G.; Tuffen, Hugh and Stevenson, John A.
Jökull, 56 (pp. 57-75)
Melting of the glacier base during a small-volume subglacial rhyolite eruption: evidence from Bláhnúkur, Iceland (2002-05)
Tuffen, H.; Pinkerton, H.; McGarvie, Dave and Gilbert, J.S.
Sedimentary Geology, 149(1-3) (pp. 183-198)
Products of an effusive subglacial rhyolite eruption: Bláhnúkur, Torfajökull, Iceland (2001-05)
Tuffen, Hugh; Gilbert, Jennie and McGarvie, Dave
Bulletin of Volcanology, 63(2-3) (pp. 179-190)
The roles of hybridization and crystal fractionation in the evolution of the Cairnsmore of Carsphairn Intrusion, Southern Uplands of Scotland (1988)
Tindle, A. G.; McGarvie, D. W. and Webb, P. C.
Journal of the Geological Society, 145 (pp. 11-21)
Physical volcanology of a subglacial-to-emergent rhyolitic tuya at Rauðufossafjöll, Torfajökull, Iceland (2002)
Tuffen, H.; McGarvie, D.W.; Gilbert, J.S. and Pinkerton, H.
In: Smellie, J.L. and Chapman, M.G. eds. Volcano-ice interaction on Earth and Mars. Geological Society special publication (London (202) (pp. 213-236)
ISBN : 1862391211 | Publisher : The Geological Society | Published : London, UK

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