I am a DPhil student working on dynamic modelling of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, under the supervision of Professor Richard Katz and Professor Ian Hewitt (maths).

My research interests are in dynamic planetary processes and how they relate to planetary composition/petrology. Dynamic interior processes facilitate the elemental cycles that have fostered life on Earth. Through a thorough understanding of these processes we can better focus our search for habitable environments within the Solar System and beyond. Planetary volcanism allows the generation of an atmosphere through the out-gassing of volatile elements from the interior, but how much of the interior is processed in this way? And under what circumstances can volatiles be returned to the mantle? Extreme planetary ‘end-members’ such as Jupiter’s moon Io allow us to understand how planetary processes operate when they dominate planetary systems; by understanding processes in these extreme settings, we can begin to understand their transient impact on other, more complex bodies.

My current research coupled tidal heating, two-phase fluid dynamics, and a parametrised crustal volcanic system to investigate how and where magma is generated within Io, how the magma flows, and how that is related to surface observations of vocanoes, crustal thicknesses, and topography.

For my Master’s I worked on constraining the thermal and orbital evolution of Saturn’s mid sized icy moons, under the supervision of Professor Francis Nimmo (UC Santa Cruz).

Spencer, D. C., Katz, R. F., & Hewitt, I. J. (in review). Tidal controls on the lithospheric thickness and topography of Io from magmatic segregation and volcanism modelling. (arXiv link)


Spencer, D.C., Katz, R. F., Hewitt, I. J., May, D. A., & Keszthelyi, L. (2020). Compositional layering in Io driven by magmatic segregation and volcanism. JGR: Planets. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JE006604


Spencer, D. C., Katz, R. F., & Hewitt, I. J. (2020). Magmatic intrusions control Io’s crustal thickness. Journal of GeophysicalResearch: Planets,125, e2020JE006443. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JE006443


Nimmo, F., Spencer, D. C., Kamata, S. (2017). Orbital Evolution, Thermal Histories, and Relaxation of the Saturnian Satellites. Lunar and Planetary Sciences XLVIII. (link)