Colin J. N. Wilson

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Colin Wilson
Colin J. N. Wilson FRS.jpg
Colin Wilson in 2015, portrait from the Royal Society
Colin James Ness Wilson

(1956-07-19) 19 July 1956 (age 63) [1]
Wantage, Oxfordshire [1]
Alma mater Imperial College London (BSc, PhD) [2]
Known for Volcanology of New Zealand
Scientific career
Thesis Studies on the origins and aplacement of pyroclastic flows  (1981)

Colin James Ness Wilson (born 19 July 1956) [1] FRS FRSNZ [3] is Professor of Volcanology at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]



Wilson was educated at Imperial College London where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology in 1977 [11] followed by a PhD in 1981 for research on pyroclastic flows. [12]

Awards and honours

Wilson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2015. [13] His certificate of election reads: [3]

Colin Wilson is an outstanding field-focussed geologist, who has made world-class contributions to understanding explosive volcanism and crustal magmatism, based on uniquely detailed data sets gathered from historic and prehistoric eruption deposits. His studies of explosive volcanism, particularly the eruption and emplacement of pyroclastic flows and ignimbrites, have established many fundamental new ideas on large-scale hazardous volcanic activity and opened up new concepts in quantifying prehistoric eruptions. He has combined his field-focussed data with innovative analytical approaches in comprehensive studies of the dynamics of large ('super-eruption') silicic magma chambers in modern volcanoes. He is a recipient of the Wager Medal of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2001 and of the American Geophysical Union in 2006.

In 2017 he was awarded the Rutherford Medal of the Royal Society of New Zealand for his research on how large volcanoes behave before and during explosive eruptions, including those that created Lake Taupo. [14]

Related Research Articles

Supervolcano Volcano that has erupted 1000 cubic km in a single eruption

A supervolcano is a large volcano that has had an eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 8, the largest recorded value on the index. This means the volume of deposits for that eruption is greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers.

Lake Taupo New Zealands largest lake

Lake Taupo is a lake in the North Island of New Zealand. It is in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano. With a surface area of 616 square kilometres (238 sq mi), it is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania after Lake Murray in Papua New Guinea. Motutaiko Island lies in the south east area of the lake.

Taupo Volcanic Zone Active volcanic zone in New Zealand

The Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ) is a volcanic area in the North Island of New Zealand that has been active for the past two million years and is still highly active. Mount Ruapehu marks its south-western end and the zone runs north-eastward through the Taupo and Rotorua areas and offshore into the Bay of Plenty. It is part of the larger Central Volcanic Region that extends further westward through the western Bay of Plenty to the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula and has been active for four million years. The Taupo Volcanic Zone is widening east–west at the rate of about 8 mm per year. It is named after Lake Taupo, the flooded caldera of the largest volcano in the zone, the Taupo Volcano.

Ignimbrite A variety of hardened tuff

Ignimbrite is a variety of hardened tuff. Ignimbrites are igneous rocks made up of crystal and rock fragments in a glass-shard groundmass, albeit the original texture of the groundmass might be obliterated due to high degrees of welding. The term ignimbrite is not recommended by the IUGS Subcommission on the Systematics of Igneous Rocks.

George Patrick Leonard Walker was a British geologist who specialized in mineralogy and volcanology.

La Garita Caldera supervolcanic caldera

La Garita Caldera is a large supervolcanic caldera in the San Juan volcanic field in the San Juan Mountains near the town of Creede in southwestern Colorado, United States. It is west of La Garita, Colorado. The eruption that created the La Garita Caldera is among the largest known volcanic eruptions in Earth's history, as well as being one of the most powerful known supervolcanic events.

Effusive eruption Type of volcanic eruption in which lava steadily flows

An effusive eruption is a type of volcanic eruption in which lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground. There are two major groupings of eruptions: effusive and explosive. Effusive eruption differs from explosive eruption, wherein magma is violently fragmented and rapidly expelled from a volcano. Effusive eruptions are most common in basaltic magmas, but they also occur in intermediate and felsic magmas. These eruptions form lava flows and lava domes, each of which vary in shape, length, and width. Deep in the crust, gasses are dissolved into the magma because of high pressures, but upon ascent and eruption, pressure drops rapidly, and these gasses begin to exsolve out of the melt. A volcanic eruption is effusive when the erupting magma is volatile poor, which suppresses fragmentation, creating an oozing magma which spills out of the volcanic vent and out into the surrounding area. The shape of effusive lava flows is governed by the type of lava, rate and duration of eruption, and topography of the surrounding landscape.

Galán mountain in Argentina

Cerro Galán is a caldera in the Catamarca Province of Argentina. It is one of the largest exposed calderas in the world. It is part of the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes, one out of several volcanic belts found in South America. It is one of several major caldera systems in the Central Volcanic Zone, some of which are grouped into the Altiplano–Puna volcanic complex.

Oruanui eruption Worlds most recent supereruption, of Taupo Volcano, New Zealand

The Oruanui eruption of New Zealand's Taupo Volcano, the world's most recent supereruption, had a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8. It is one of the largest eruptions in the history of New Zealand. It occurred about 26,500 years ago in the Late Pleistocene and generated approximately 430 km3 (100 cu mi) of pyroclastic fall deposits, 320 km3 (77 cu mi) of pyroclastic density current (PDC) deposits and 420 km3 (100 cu mi) of primary intracaldera material, equivalent to 530 km3 (130 cu mi) of magma, totaling 1,170 km3 (280 cu mi) of total deposits. The eruption is divided into 10 different phases on the basis of nine mappable fall units and a tenth, poorly preserved but volumetrically dominant fall unit.

Phreatomagmatic eruption Volcanic eruption involving both steam and magma

Phreatomagmatic eruptions are volcanic eruptions resulting from interaction between magma and water. They differ from exclusively magmatic eruptions and phreatic eruptions. Unlike phreatic eruptions, the products of phreatomagmatic eruptions contain juvenile (magmatic) clasts. It is common for a large explosive eruption to have magmatic and phreatomagmatic components.

Hatepe eruption major volcanic eruption in New Zealand

The Hatepe eruption, named for the Hatepe Plinian pumice tephra layer, sometimes referred to as the Taupo eruption and dated to either around 180 or 233 AD was Taupo Volcano's most recent major eruption. It is considered New Zealand's largest eruption during the last 20,000 years. The eruption ejected some 120 km3 (29 cu mi) of material, of which 30 km3 (7.2 cu mi) was ejected in a few minutes. This makes it one of the most violent eruptions in the last 5000 years, comparable to the Minoan eruption in the 2nd millennium BC, the 946 eruption of Paektu Mountain and the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora. The resulting ash turned the sky red over Rome and China.

Volcanology of New Zealand

Volcanology of New Zealand is the scientific study of volcanoes and volcanic phenomena in New Zealand. Volcanism has been responsible for many of the country's geographical features, especially in the North Island and the country's outlying islands.

Taupo Volcano Caldera Volcano in New Zealand

Lake Taupo, in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, is the caldera of a large rhyolitic supervolcano called the Taupo Volcano. This huge volcano has produced two of the world’s most violent eruptions in geologically recent times.

Timeline of volcanism on Earth

This timeline of volcanism on Earth is a list of major volcanic eruptions of approximately at least magnitude 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) or equivalent sulfur dioxide emission around the Quaternary period.

Bruce F. Houghton is a New Zealand volcanologist. He was born on 29 April 1950 in Auckland, New Zealand. He was a student under Professor George P. L. Walker at Auckland University.

The magma supply rate measures the production rate of magma at a volcano. Global magma production rates on Earth are about 20–25 cubic kilometres per year (4.8–6.0 cu mi/a).

Katharine Cashman Professor of Volcanology at the University of Bristol

Katharine Venable Cashman is an American volcanologist, professor of volcanology at the University of Bristol and former Philip H. Knight Professor of Natural Science at the University of Oregon.

Dispersal index is a parameter in volcanology. The dispersal index was defined by George P. L. Walker in 1973 as the surface area covered by an ash or tephra fall, where the thickness is equal or more than 1/100 of the thickness of the fall at the vent. An eruption with a low dispersal index leaves most of its products close to the vent, forming a cone; an eruption with a high dispersal index forms thinner sheet-like deposits which extends to larger distances from the vent. A dispersal index of 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi) or more of coarse pumice is one proposed definition of a Plinian eruption. Likewise, a dispersal index of 50,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) has been proposed as a cutoff for an ultraplinian eruption. The definition of 1/100 of the near-vent thickness was partially dictated by the fact that most tephra deposits are not well preserved at larger distances.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "WILSON, Prof. Colin James Ness". Who's Who . 2016 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.(subscription or UK public library membership required)(subscription required)
  2. Lopes, R. M. C.; Guest, J. E.; Wilson, C. J. (1980). "Origin of the Olympus Mons aureole and perimeter scarp". The Moon and the Planets. 22 (2): 221–234. Bibcode:1980M&P....22..221L. doi:10.1007/BF00898433.
  3. 1 2 3 "v". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2 May 2015.
  4. Colin J. N. Wilson publications indexed by Google Scholar
  5. Colin J. N. Wilson's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  6. Houghton, B. F.; Wilson, C. J. N.; McWilliams, M. O.; Lanphere, M. A.; Weaver, S. D.; Briggs, R. M.; Pringle, M. S. (1995). "Chronology and dynamics of a large silicic magmatic system: Central Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand". Geology. 23: 13. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1995)023<0013:CADOAL>2.3.CO;2.
  7. Houghton, B. F.; Wilson, C. J. N. (1989). "A vesicularity index for pyroclastic deposits". Bulletin of Volcanology. 51 (6): 451–462. Bibcode:1989BVol...51..451H. doi:10.1007/BF01078811.
  8. Wilson, C. J. N.; Houghton, B. F.; McWilliams, M. O.; Lanphere, M. A.; Weaver, S. D.; Briggs, R. M. (1995). "Volcanic and structural evolution of Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand: A review". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 68: 1–28. Bibcode:1995JVGR...68....1W. doi:10.1016/0377-0273(95)00006-G.
  9. Charlier, B. L. A. (2004). "Magma Generation at a Large, Hyperactive Silicic Volcano (Taupo, New Zealand) Revealed by U-Th and U-Pb Systematics in Zircons". Journal of Petrology. 46: 3–32. doi:10.1093/petrology/egh060.
  10. Wilson, C. J. N.; Walker, G. P. L. (1985). "The Taupo Eruption, New Zealand I. General Aspects". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 314 (1529): 199–228. doi:10.1098/rsta.1985.0019. ISSN   1364-503X.
  11. Colin Wilson's Entry at ORCID
  12. Wilson, Colin J.N. (1981). Studies on the origins and aplacement of pyroclastic flows (PhD thesis). Imperial College London (University of London). OCLC   53587921.
  13. "Professor Colin Wilson FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015.
  14. "Recipients". Royal Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 2 May 2018.