CNDS is an interdisciplinary research centre that brings together researchers from engineering, social and earth sciences to work together on collaborative projects on natural hazards, socio-technological vulnerabilities, and societal security. 

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Research portrait: Sonja Greiner

Sonja Greiner portrait

PhD student at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala university

  • What is your area of expertise?

I study and model volcano deformation, which is how the ground moves when magma accumulates under the surface. My main interest is how crustal heterogeneity, such as layers of varying stiffness or fractures and faults, influences the shape of such intrusions and observations on the Earth´s surface, and consequently, our interpretation of where the magma is located and how much it may be.  

  • What sparked your interest in natural hazards and disaster science?

After I finished school, I spent a year working in Iceland. A few weeks after I arrived, a volcano started experiencing unrest. Because the volcano is located under a glacier, there was a chance that, in case of a subglacial eruption, flood waves of meltwater would flow down the river next to which I lived at the time. As a result, we got evacuation plans. In the end they were not needed, because the magma eventually surfaced north of the glacier and far away from any settlements or infrastructure. None the less, coming from a country without major earthquakes or active volcanoes, this left a huge impression on me and sparked my interest in volcanology and volcano monitoring.

  • If I could only work on one problem/issue/challenge in natural hazards and disaster science it would be impossible to decide, because I think it is important to ask any research question in a wider context, not as an isolated issue. However, in terms of volcanic processes, I would like to work towards dynamic and more realistic models of magmatic subsurface processes. It may not be the answer to all problems, but it would hopefully help with volcano monitoring and short-term hazard assessment during periods of volcanic unrest.
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?

The most influential paper to my career so far is probably “Volcanic plume height correlated with magma-pressure change at Grímsvötn Volcano, Iceland” by Hreinsdóttir et al. (2014).
When I first read it, I really liked the idea of connecting two different research approaches, in this case models of volcano deformation and plume height, through common or connected parameters, which here were the pressure change and magma flow rate. This article later became one of the corner stones of my MS-thesis and the multidisciplinary aspect, which I liked so much during the first read, is now an integral part of my PhD project.  

  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?

When I am not working on research I like to knit and to spend time outside taking photos or simply enjoying nature.

  • What is your golden tip for early career scientists?

Never stop being curious and keep asking questions. You either get answers and learn something, or you can try to find answers yourself in your research. Since I only started my PhD a year ago, I cannot really tell if this is a golden tip, but at least so far it worked for me.

Last modified: 2022-11-25