David Pyle

David Pyle

Professor of Earth Sciences

I am a volcanologist, with broad interests in understanding how volcanoes work, and in the causes and consequences of volcanic activity. Active research topics include: using historical sources to extend our knowledge of past eruptions and their societal impacts; understanding the response of volcanoes in once-glaciated regions to the end of the last glaciation; and piecing together records of past volcanism, and understanding contemporary volcanic risk, in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. Take a look at my recent publications and current projects (listed below) for some more examples.

Current Projects

Current Roles

About me: Academic profiles, and cv:





David Pyle, Volcanoes: Encounters through the Ages, Bodleian/Chicago, 2017. ISBN 9781851244591 [Published 10 February 2017]

David Pyle, Volcanoes, Oceana Books, 128 pp., 1998. [Eagle books, 2003, paperback edition].

Edited Volumes/Monographs

DM Pyle, TA Mather, J Biggs (Eds, 2013), Remote-sensing of Volcanoes and Volcanic processes: Integrating observation and modelling, Geological Society Special Publication, 380, 362 pp.  

C Oppenheimer, DM Pyle and J Barclay (Eds, 2003), Volcanic Degassing, Geological Society of London Special Publication 213, 420 pp.

TH Druitt, et al. (1999), Santorini Volcano, Geological Society of London Memoir 19, 178pp.







  • 169. M Rodgers, P Smith, TA Mather, DM Pyle, Quiescent-explosive transitions during dome-forming volcanic eruptions: using seismicity to probe the volcanic processes leading to the 29 July 2008 Vulcanian explosion of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Journal of Geophysical Research 121, 10.1002/2016JB013180
  • 168. H Rawson, T Keller, K Fontijn, DM Pyle, TA Mather, VC Smith, JA Naranjo, Compositional variability in mafic arc magmas over short spatial and temporal scales: evidence for the signature of mantle reactive melt channels. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 456, 66-77.
  • 167. P Nomikou et al., Post-eruptive flooding of Santorini caldera and implications for tsunami generation, Nature Communications 7, 13332.
  • 166. W Hutchison, R Fusillo, DM Pyle, TA Mather, JD Blundy, J Biggs, G Yirgu, BE Cohen, RA Brooker, DN Barfod, AT Calvert, A pulse of mid-Pleistocene rift volcanism in Ethiopia at the dawn of modern humans, Nature Communications 7: 13192.
  • 165. W Hutchison, DM Pyle, TA Mather, G Yirgu, J Biggs, BE Cohen, DN Barfod, E Lewi, The eruptive history and magmatic evolution of Aluto volcano: new insights into silicic peralkaline volcanism in the Ethiopian rift, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 328, 9-33.
  • 164. W Hutchison, J Biggs, TA Mather, DM Pyle, E Lewi, G Yirgu, S Caliro, G Chiodini, LE Clor, TP Fischer, Causes of unrest at silicic calderas in the East African Rift: New constraints from InSAR and soil-gas chemistry at Aluto volcano, Ethiopia, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 17, 3008-3030.
  • 163. F Alfano, C Bonadonna, S Watt, C Connor, A Volentik, DM Pyle, Reconstruction of total grain size distribution of the climactic phase of a long-lasting eruption: the example of the 2008-2013 Chaitén eruption, Bulletin of Volcanology 78:46
  • 162. DM Pyle, Field observations of tephra fallout, Chapter 1 in Volcanic Ash, eds. S Mackie, K Cashman, H Ricketts, A Rust, M Watson, pp 25-38. ISBN  9780081004050
  • 161. E Carboni, RG Grainger, TA Mather, DM Pyle, G Thomas, R Siddans, A Smith, A Dudhia, M Koukouli, D Balis, The vertical distribution of volcanic SO2 plumes measured by IASI, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 16, 4343-4367.
  • 160. K Fontijn, H Rawson, M van Daele, J Moernaut, AM Abarzua, K Heirman, S Bertrand, DM Pyle, TA Mather,  M De Batist, JA Naranjo, H Moreno, Synchronisation of sedimentary records using tephra: a post-glacial tephrochronological model for the Chilean Lake District. Quaternary Science Reviews 137, 234-254 doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.02.015. [Open Access]
  • 159. H Rawson, DM Pyle, TA Mather, VC Smith, K Fontijn, S Lachowyz, JA Naranjo, The magmatic and eruptive response of arc volcanoes to deglaciation: insights from southern Chile. Geology 44, 251-254, doi:10.1130/G37504.1 [Open Access]
  • 158. MJ Stock, MCS Humphreys, VC Smith, R Isaia, DM Pyle, Late-stage volatile saturation as a potential trigger for explosive volcanic eruptions, Nature Geoscience 9, 249–254 doi:10.1038/ngeo2639




  • 140. DM Pyle, TA Mather, J Biggs, Remote sensing of volcanoes and volcanic processes: integrating observation and modelling – introduction. In: DM Pyle, TA Mather and J Biggs (eds), Remote Sensing of Volcanoes and Volcanic ProcessesGeological Society Special Publication 380, 1-13. [Free content]
  • 139. W Hutchison, N Varley, DM Pyle, TA Mather, JA Stevenson, Airborne thermal remote sensing of the Volcan de Colima (Mexico) lava dome from 2007 to 2010, In: DM Pyle, TA Mather and J Biggs (eds), Remote Sensing of Volcanoes and Volcanic Processes, Geological Society Special Publication 380, 203-228.
  • 138. S Lachowycz, DM Pyle, TA Mather, NR Varley, HM Odbert, PD Cole, GA Reyes-Davila, Long-range correlations identified in time-series of volcano seismicity during dome-forming eruptions using detrended fluctuation analysis, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 264, 197-209.
  • 137. MM Parks, S Caliro, G Chiodini, DM Pyle, TA Mather, K Berlo, M Edmonds, J Biggs, P Nomikou, C Raptakis, Distinguishing contributions to diffuse CO2 emissions in volcanic areas from magmatic degassing and thermal decarbonation using soil gas 222Rn-d13C systematics: application to Santorini volcano, Greece.Earth and Planetary Science Letters 377-378, 180-190.
  • 136. K Berlo, H Tuffen, V Smith, JM Castro, DM Pyle, TA Mather, K Geraki, Element variations in rhyolitic magma resulting from gas transport, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 121, 436-451.
  • 135. EJ Nicholson, TA Mather, DM Pyle, HM Odbert, T Christopher, Cyclical patterns in volcanic degassing revealed by SO2 flux timeseries analysis: an application to Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 375, 209-221.
  • 134. SFL Watt, DM Pyle, TA Mather, JA Naranjo, Arc magma compositions controlled by linked thermal and chemical gradients above the subducting slab, Geophysical Research Letters 40, 2550-2556.
  • 133. DJ Ferguson, J Maclennan, ID Bastow, DM Pyle, SM Jones, D Keir, JD Blundy, T Plank, G Yirgu, Melting during late stage rifting in Afar is hot and deep, Nature, 499, 70-73.
  • 132. SFL Watt, DM Pyle, TA Mather, Evidence of mid- to late-Holocene explosive rhyolitic eruptions from Chaiten volcano, Chile, Andean Geology 40, 216-226. [Open Access]
  • 131. SFL Watt, DM Pyle, TA Mather, The volcanic response to deglaciation: evidence from glaciated arcs and a reassessment of global eruption records, Earth Science Reviews 122, 77-102.
  • 130. DJ Ferguson, AT Calvert, DM Pyle, JD Blundy, G Yirgu, TJ Wright, Constraining timescales of focussed magmatic accretion and extension in the Afar crust using lava geochronology, Nature Communications, 4, 1416.
  • 129. JAJ Scott, DM Pyle, TA Mather, WI Rose, Geochemistry and evolution of the Santiaguito dome complex, Guatemala. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 252, 92-107.



  • 119. SFL Watt, DM Pyle, JA Naranjo, G Rosqvist, M Mella, TA Mather,H Moreno, Holocene tephrochronology of the Hualaihue region (Andean southern volcanic zone, ~ 42 S), southern Chile. Quaternary International (INTREPID volume), 246, 324-343.
  • 118. SFL Watt, DM Pyle, TA Mather, Geology, petrology and geochemistry of the dome complex of Huequi volcano, southern Chile. Andean Geology 38, 335-348. [Open Access]
  • 117. F Alfano, C Bonadonna, ACM. Volentik, CB Connor, SFL Watt, DM Pyle, LJ Connor, Tephra stratigraphy and eruptive volume of the May, 2008, Chaitén eruption, Chile, Bulletin of Volcanology 73, 613-630.
  • 116. MM Parks, J Biggs, TA Mather, DM Pyle, F Amelung, ML Monsalve and L Narváez Medina, Co-eruptive subsidence at Galeras identified during an InSAR survey of Colombian volcanoes (2006-2009), Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 202, 228-240.
  • 115. RS Martin, MLI Witt, DM Pyle, TA Mather, SFL Watt, E Bagnato, S Calabrese, Rapid oxidation of mercury (Hg) at volcanic vents: insights from high temperature thermodynamic models of Mt Etna’s emissions. Chemical Geology 283, 279-286.


  • 114. RS Martin, TA Mather, DM Pyle, JA Day, MLI Witt, SJ Collins, RG Hilton, Major and trace element distributions around active volcanic vents determined by analyses of grasses: implications for element cycling and biomonitoring, Bulletin of Volcanology 72 (8), 1009-1020, doi:10.1007/s00445-010-0374-7
  • 113. MLI Witt,  TA Mather, AR Baker, JCM de Hoog, DM Pyle, Atmospheric trace metals over the south-west Indian Ocean: Total gaseous mercury, aerosol trace metal concentrations and lead isotope ratios, Marine Chemistry, 121, 2-16, doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2010.02.005.
  • 112. ML Rampey, C Oppenheimer, DM Pyle, G Yirgu, Caldera forming eruptions of the Quaternary Kone Volcanic Complex, Ethiopia, Journal of African Earth Sciences, 58, 51-66.
  • 111. DJ Ferguson, TD Barnie, DM Pyle, C Oppenheimer, G Yirgu, E Lewi, T Kidane, S Carn, I Hamling, Recent rift-related volcanism in Afar, Ethiopia, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 292, 409-418, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2010.02.010
  • 110. MLI Witt, N Meheran, TA Mather, JCM de Hoog, DM Pyle, Aerosol trace metals, particle morphology and total gaseous mercury in the atmosphere of Oxford, UK, Atmospheric Environment, 44, 1524-1538, doi:10.1016/jatmosenv.2010.01.008




  • 90. A Aiuppa, E Bagnato, MLI Witt, TA Mather, F Parello, DM Pyle and RS Martin, Real-time simultaneous detection of volcanic Hg and SO2 at La Fossa Crater, Vulcano (Aeolian Islands, Sicily), Geophysical Research Letters 34, L21307.
  • 89. E Bagnato, A Aiuppa, F Parello, S Calabrese, W D’Alessandro, TA Mather, AJS McGonigle, DM Pyle and I Wangberg, Degassing of gaseous (elemental and reactive) and particulate mercury from Mount Etna volcano (Southern Italy), Atmospheric Environment 41, 7377-7388.
  • 88. SFL Watt, TA Mather, DM Pyle, Vulcanian explosion cycles: patterns and predictability, Geology, 35, 839-842.
  • 87. RS Martin, TA Mather, DM Pyle, Volcanic emissions and the early Earth atmosphere, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71, 3673-3685.
  • 86. M Petraglia et al., Middle Paleolithic assemblages from the Indian subcontinent before and after the Toba super-eruption Science, 317, 114-116 [6 July 2007].
  • 85. V Margari, DM Pyle, C Bryant, PL Gibbard, Mediterranean tephra stratigraphy revisited: results from a long terrestrial sequence on Lesvos Island, Greece, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 163, 34-54.
  • 84. SFL Watt, DM Pyle, TA Mather, JA Day, A Aiuppa, The use of tree-rings and foliage as an archive of volcanogenic cation deposition, Environmental Pollution, 148, 48 – 61.
  • 83. A Aiuppa, A Franco, R von Glasow, AG Allen, W D’Alessandro, TA Mather, DM Pyle, M Valenza, The tropospheric processing of acidic gases and hydrogen sulphide in volcanic gas plumes as inferred from field and model investigations, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7, 1441-1450
  • 82. TA Mather, RG Harrison, VI Tsanev, DM Pyle, ML Karamudi, AJ Bennett, GM Sawyer, EJ Highwood, Observations of the plume generated by the December 2005 oil depot explosions and prolonged fire at Buncefield (Hertfordshire, UK) and associated atmospheric changes. Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 463, 1153-1177.



  • 71. GR Fern, TA Mather, DM Pyle, Investigation of near-source basaltic glasses using 57Fe Mossbauer spectroscopy, Hyperfine interactions 166, 705-708
  • 70. MB Holness, VM Martin, DM Pyle, Information about open-system magma chambers derived from textures in magmatic enclaves: the Kameni Islands, Santorini, Greece, Geological Magazine 142, 637-649
  • 69. DM Pyle, TA Mather, The regional influence of volcanic emissions from Popocatéptl, Mexico. Discussion of “Measurement of aerosol particles, gases and flux radiation in the Pico de Orizaba Nacional Park, and its relationship to air pollution transport” by Márquez et al., 2005. Atmospheric Environment 39, 6475-6478
  • 68. NV Chalapathi Rao, SA Gibson, DM Pyle, AP Dickin, J Day, Petrogenesis of Proterozoic lamproites and kimberlites from the Cuddapah Basin and Dharwar Craton, Southern India: a Reply. Journal of Petrology 46, 1081-1084




  • 52. SC Loughlin, ES Calder, A Clarke, PD Cole, R Luckett, MT Mangan, DM Pyle, RSJ Sparks, B Voight, RB Watts Pyroclastic flows and surges generated by the 25 June 1997 dome collapse, Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 21, 191 – 209
  • 51. AJS McGonigle, C Oppenheimer, B Galle, TA Mather and DM Pyle, Walking traverse and scanning DOAS measurements of volcanic gas emission rates, Geophysical Research Letters 29 (20), 1985
  • 50. M Edmonds, D Pyle and C Oppenheimer, HCl emissions at Soufriere Hills Volcano Montserrat, during a second phase of dome building: November 1999 to October 2000, Bulletin of Volcanology 64, 21-30
  • 49. C Oppenheimer, MR Burton, J Durieux and DM Pyle, Open-path Fourier transform spectroscopy of gas emissions from Oldoinyo Lengai volcano, Tanzania. Optics and Lasers in Engineering 37, 203-214.




  • 44. BF Houghton, CJN Wilson and DM Pyle, Pyroclastic fall deposits, in H. Sigurdsson et al., eds, Encyclopedia of Volcanology, Academic Press, pp. 555 – 570.
  • 43. DM Pyle, Sizes of volcanic eruptions, in H. Sigurdsson et al., eds, Encyclopedia of Volcanology, Academic Press, pp. 263 – 269.
  • 42. DM Pyle, Widely dispersed Quaternary tephra in Africa, Global and Planetary Change 21, 95-112
  • 41. NV Chalapathi Rao, JA Miller, SA Gibson, DM Pyle and V Madhavan, Reply to comment on: Precise 40Ar/39Ar age determinations of the Kotakonda kimberlite and Chelima lamproite, India: implication to the timing of mafic dyke swarm emplacement in the eastern Dharwar craton, Journal of the Geological Society of India 53.
  • 40. MA Lagmay, DM Pyle, B Dade and C Oppenheimer, Control of crater morphology on flow path direction of Soufriere-type pyroclastic flows. Journal of Geophysical Research 104, 7169-7181


  • 39. DM Pyle, Volcanoes: how did the summer go? Nature (News and Views) 393, 415-417, 1998
  • 38. NV Chalapathi Rao, JA Miller, SA Gibson, DM Pyle and V Madhavan, Precise 40Ar/39Ar age determinations of the Kotakonda kimberlite and Chelima lamproite, India: implication to the timing of mafic dyke swarm emplacement in the eastern Dharwar craton, Journal of the Geological Society of India 53, 425-432.
  • 37. DM Pyle, Investigations of three tuff samples. Appendix in J.M. Cook and R.V. Nicholls, Old Smyrna excavations: the temples of Athena. Supplementary Volume, British School of Archaeology at Athens 30, 205-207.
  • 36. NV Chalapathi Rao, SA Gibson, DM Pyle and AP Dickin, Contrasting isotopic mantle sources for Proterozoic lamproites and kimberlites from the Cuddapah basin and Eastern Dharwar craton: implication for Proterozoic mantle heterogeneity beneath southern India. Journal of the Geological Society of India 52, 683-694.
  • 35. DM Pyle, TH van Andel, P Paschos and P van den Bogaard, An exceptionally thick Middle Pleistocene tephra layer from Epirus, Greece, Quaternary Research, 49, 280-286
  • 34. DM Pyle, Forecasting size and repose times of future extreme volcanic events, Geology, 26, 367-370


  • 33. AW Woods and DM Pyle, The control of chamber geometry on triggering volcanic eruptions, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 151, 155-162
  • 32. EVSSK Babu, Kumar and DM Pyle, Spinel (hercynite) adcumulate from the Chimakurti gabbro-anorthosite pluton, Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh, India: evidence for plagioclase buoyancy and magma mixing. Current Science, 73, 441-444.
  • 31. DM Pyle, The global impact of the Minoan eruption of Santorini, Greece. Environmental Geology, 30, 59-61


  • 30. S Bekki, JA Pyle, W Zhong, R Toumi, JD Haigh, DM Pyle, The role of microphysical and chemical processes in prolonging the climate forcing of the Toba eruption. Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 2669-2672
  • 29. NVC Rao, JA Miller, DM Pyle and V Madhavan, New Proterozoic K-Ar ages for some kimberlites and lamproites from the Cuddapah basin and Dharwar craton, south India: evidence for non-contemporaneous emplacement. Precambrian Research, 79, 363-369
  • 28. DM Pyle, PD Beattie and GJS Bluth, Sulphur emissions to the stratosphere from explosive volcanic eruptions, Bulletin of Volcanology, 57, 663-671
  • 27. NVC Rao, SJB Reed, DM Pyle and PD Beattie, Larnitic Kirschsteinite from the Kotakonda kimberlite, Andhra Pradesh, India. Mineralogical Magazine 60, 513-516.
  • 26. JB Dawson, DM Pyle and H Pinkerton, Evolution of natrocarbonatite from a wollastonite nephelinite parent: evidence from the June 1993 eruption of Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania. Journal of Geology 104, 41-54.


  • 25. DM Pyle, Assessment of the minimum volume of tephra fall deposits, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 69, 379-382
  • 24. DM Pyle and DL Pyle, Bubble migration and the initiation of volcanic eruptions,Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 67, 227-232
  • 23. DM Pyle, Mass and energy budgets of explosive volcanic eruptions, Geophysical Research Letters, 22 (5), 563-566.
  • 22. DM Pyle, Decay series evidence for transfer and storage times of natrocarbonatite magma. Chapter 9, in, “Carbonatite volcanism: Oldoinyo Lengai and the petrogenesis of natrocarbonatite” K Bell and J. Keller, eds. , Proceedings in Volcanology 4, 124 – 136
  • 21. JB Dawson, H Pinkerton, GE Norton, DM Pyle, P Browning, D Jackson and AE Fallick, Petrology and geochemistry of Oldoinyo Lengai lavas extruded in November 1988: magma source, ascent and crystallisation. Chapter 4, in, “Carbonatite volcanism: Oldoinyo Lengai and the petrogenesis of natrocarbonatite” K Bell and J. Keller, eds., Proceedings in Volcanology 4, 47-69
  • 20. DM Pyle, H Pinkerton, GE Norton and JB Dawson, Dynamics of degassing at Oldoinyo Lengai, Chapter 3, in, “Carbonatite volcanism: Oldoinyo Lengai and the petrogenesis of natrocarbonatite” K Bell and J. Keller, eds. Proceedings in Volcanology 4, 37-46.
  • 19. H Pinkerton, GE Norton, JB Dawson and DM Pyle, Field observations and measurements of the physical properties of Oldoinyo Lengai alkali carbonatite lavas, November 1988, Chapter 2, in, “Carbonatite volcanism: Oldoinyo Lengai and the petrogenesis of natrocarbonatite” K Bell and J. Keller, eds. , Proceedings in Volcanology 4, 23-36
  • 18. DM Pyle, Volcanoes: reduction of urban hazards (News and Views). Nature 378, 134-135.


  • 17. JB Dawson, H Pinkerton, DM Pyle, and C Nyamweru, June 1993 eruption of Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania: exceptionally viscous and large carbonatite lava flows and evidence for coexisting silicate and carbonate magmas. Geology 22, 799-802.
  • 16. DM Pyle, Reply to comment by M. Condomines. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 122, 257-258
  • 15. DM Pyle, Isotope disequilibrium studies and magmatic processes. Geoscientist, 4(3), 18-20.


  • 14. DM Pyle, Geochemical hazard indicators (News and Views). Nature, 362, 787-788.
  • 13. DM Pyle, Graphical analysis of rare gas mixing systematics in geothermal systems. Geochemical Journal, 27, 125-129.


  • 12. JB Gill, DM Pyle and RW Williams, Igneous rocks; Chapter 7 in “Uranium series disequilibrium: applications to environmental problems”, 2nd edn, eds. M Ivanovich and RS Harmon, Oxford University Press, 207-258, 1992.
  • 11. DM Pyle, The volume and residence time of magma beneath active volcanoes determined by decay-series disequilibria methods, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 112, 61-73, 1992.
  • 10. DM Pyle, On the “climatic effectiveness” of volcanic eruptions. Quaternary Research 37, 125-129.


  • 9. DM Pyle, JB Dawson and M Ivanovich, Short-lived decay series disequilibria in the natrocarbonatite lavas of Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania: constraints on the timing of magma genesis. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 105, 378-396, 1991.


  • 8. JB Dawson, H Pinkerton, G Norton and DM Pyle, Physicochemical properties of carbonatite lavas: data from the 1988 eruption of Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania, Geology 18, 260-263, 1990.
  • 7. DM Pyle, The application of ice-core and tree-ring studies to the Minoan eruption, In: Thera and the Aegean World III, vol 3, eds. D Hardy and AC Renfrew, pp 167-173, The Thera Foundation, London, 1990.
  • 6. DM Pyle, New volume estimates for the Minoan eruption, In: Thera and the Aegean World III, vol 2, eds. D Hardy, J. Keller, VP Galanopoulos, NC Flemming and TH Druitt, pp 113-121; The Thera Foundation, London, 1990.


  • 5. PW Francis, RSJ Sparks, CJ Hawkesworth, RS Thorpe, DM Pyle, SR Tait, MS Mantovani and F McDermott, Petrology and geochemistry of volcanic rocks of the Cerro Galan caldera, Northwest Argentina, Geological Magazine 126, 515-547.
  • 4. TH Druitt, RA Mellors, DM Pyle and RSJ Sparks, Explosive volcanism on Santorini, Greece, Geological Magazine 126, 95-126.
  • 3. DM Pyle, Ice-core acidity peaks, retarded tree-growth and putative eruptions, Archaeometry 31, 88-91.
  • 2. DM Pyle, The thickness, volume and grainsize of tephra fall deposits, Bulletin of Volcanology, 51, 1-15.


  • 1. DM Pyle, M Ivanovich and RSJ Sparks, Magma-cumulate mixing identified by U-Th disequilibrium dating, Nature 331, 157-159.


Popular articles

2017 – ‘Detecting the next volcanic eruption’, Natural History, June 2017, v. 125, (6), 25-31.