Historical/Social Volcanology, Jazmin Scarlett @scarlett_jazmin: A Day in the GeoLife

NAME:  Jazmin Scarlett

CURRENT TITLE:  PhD Student

AREA OF EXPERTISE:  Historical and social volcanology; theoretical disaster management

EDUCATION:  BSc (Hons) Geography and Natural Hazards (with professional training) at Coventry University, United Kingdom; MSc Volcanology and Geological Hazards at Lancaster University, United Kingdom

What’s your job like?

My research is understanding a small island state society in a historical context, including the characteristics of pyroclastic density currents and lahars and how the two interacted and impacted one another. This is to provide evidence for two proposed concepts: “co-hazardous societies” and “co-volcanic societies.” It is exciting and frustrating but that balance is keeping me going. I am always learning and having fun doing so.

volcanology

La Soufrière volcano area, St. Vincent. Photo copyright: Jazmin Scarlett

What’s a typical day like?

The past year has involved defining my project, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing. This year, I have attended and presented at two conferences on my MSc work and participated as an active member of my department, helping in two undergraduate modules. I am currently working with other PhD students to create a department conference day for the new PhD students joining this year.

But the fun part will start soon. I will be accessing French, British and Caribbean archive sources dating back to the 1600s to see how the society of St. Vincent and its volcano, La Soufrière, have impacted, developed and adapted to one another. It is not typical volcanology research, but the interdisciplinary nature of my project will make my days all the more interesting.

St. Vincent volcanology

La Soufriere Volcano Trail. Photo copyright: Jazmin Scarlett

What’s fun?

Discovering the history of a society — the hardships, triumphs and the natural hazards that occurred in between. I am lucky enough to be doing my research on St. Vincent, where my family have lived since the late 1800s and possibly earlier.

St. Vincent volcanology

St. Vincent. Photo copyright: Jazmin Scarlett

The fieldwork in volcanology, no matter the specialism, is the most enjoyable. For me, last year for my MSc work, I got to live in a village on St. Vincent that is in the high risk zone.  I travelled to other villages and towns, observing people going about their daily lives and discovering people’s oral histories of the volcano. To me that is the most exciting part, and I cannot wait to continue this sort of work beyond my PhD.

What’s challenging?

I sometimes have days when I have no motivation to sit down and write parts of my thesis. I try to overcome this by setting myself achievable writing goals throughout a week…but sometimes my brain just says no!

I also have a physical disability that can make it hard to travel in the field and naturally, volcanoes are mostly only accessible by foot. However, my determination and passion for volcanoes and understanding the people who live with them pushes me on.

What’s your advice to students?

If you have the passion for volcanology or another geoscience discipline…don’t give up on it! Hard work pays off, and it can take you to wonderful places.

Also, if you have an idea, work with supervisors to help make it feasible to research. There is nothing more exciting than exploring something new in the pursuit of understanding the world we live in.

St. Vincent volcanology

St. Vincent. Photo copyright: Jazmin Scarlett

St. Vincent. Photo copyright: Jazmin Scarlett

St. Vincent. Photo copyright: Jazmin Scarlett

4 Comments

  1. Lally Brown

    Hats off to you Jazmin, you sound like a really ‘gutzy’ person who thoroughly enjoys her work – St. Vincent has a special magic, lucky you to be living there!
    I was on neighboring Montserrat for three years when she erupted in 1995 and wrote a book about it.
    Best of luck with your thesis, keep motivated, it’s so important!

  2. Jazmin Scarlett

    Hi Lally, thank you for the kind words.

    Myself and my immediate family do not live on St. Vincent, we live in the UK, it is mainly the extended family but yes you are right, it is such a wonderful place, it feels like home when I am there!

    That is interesting, what is the book called?

    1. Lally Brown

      Hi Jazmin,
      It’s wonderful that you are able to do your PhD about somewhere that has a personal resonance, and such an interesting (and useful) subject too!
      My book is called “The Volcano, Montserrat and Me” I think you’d be able to relate to it very well!
      http://amzn.to/1N243EO
      If the link doesn’t work let me know, we follow each other on twitter.

      1. Jazmin Scarlett

        Hi Lally,
        It is, I would not have it any other way. I owe it in part to my family that told me their experiences of the last 2 eruptions!

        Thank you for the link, it works perfectly.

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