Emma Burkett

Emma Burkett

Research Topic
Geochemical and Remote Sensing Reconstructions of Timescales for Magma Assembly in the Aleutian Volcanic Arc and Satellite Remote Sensing of Volcanic Ash with Ground-truthed Ash Detection Modeling in the Aleutians

Emma’s research is centered on decoding indications of imminent eruptions and magma evolution beneath Aleutian arc volcanoes. To understand magma storage times within individual magmatic plumbing systems, she uses trace and major elemental diffusion models in volcanic crystals, such as plagioclase and pyroxene. By using different minerals which crystallize at different temperatures and depths beneath the volcano, insight can be gained of the vertical extent of the magma assembly. Understanding magma accumulation rates is critical to assessing volcanic hazards from volcanoes, as well as determining storage (warm- vs. cold-storage dominated) conditions and how they may change over the lifetime of the volcano. Due to the inaccessibility of direct observations from magma chambers, interdisciplinary work blending remotely sensed observations, ground-truthed data from volcanic products, and inferences gained through thermodynamic and geochemical modeling provide an approach to tackle the challenging relationship between surficial manifestations of potential eruptions and the magma assembly process.

Emma’s research also seeks to improve ash detection models in heavily clouded areas, such as the Aleutians, and increase the accuracy in volcanic hazard mitigation. This includes ground-truthing satellite data with collected ash samples to complete a spectral library of Aleutian ash varying in composition and improve ash detection models validated with physical samples. Improving the understanding of the spectral signatures for various compositions of erupted products and chemical reactions occurring in the eruption plume improves the capability of forecasting the trajectory, hazard,
and distribution of erupted products within the stratosphere, as well as the understanding of the overall impact
of volcanic eruptions on the Earth system.

Previous Awards and Activities

  • 2019 & 2020 Karen Von Damm Student Research Opportunities Fund
  • 2020 Klienman Volcano Research Grant, 2020 GSA Graduate Research Grant
  • 2020 Alexander Sisson Award
  • 2019 & 2021 New Hampshire Space Grant Research Fellowship
  • 2020 Graduate Student Fellowship (College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, UNH)

Selected Presentations and Publications

Burkett EM, Garvey B, Gude Z, Fahnestock MF, Palace MW, and Bryce JG (2020), Mineralogic Constraints on Magma Assembly beneath Augustine, Abstract [V003-007] presented at 2020 Fall Meeting, AGU, 1-17 Dec.


  • B.S. Geology: Western Washington University
  • M.S. Earth Science – Geology: University of New Hampshire

Professional Positions

  • Teaching Assistant: WWU Geology Field Camp (2017), Dynamic Earth (2018), Global Environmental Change (2019), Mineralogy (2019), Earth History (2020), and Our Solar System (2021).