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EGU Award Ceremony (Credit: EGU/Foto Pfluegl)

Arne Richter Awards for Outstanding Early Career Scientists 2022 Fabian B. Wadsworth

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European Geosciences Union

Fabian B. Wadsworth

Fabian B. Wadsworth
Fabian B. Wadsworth

GMPV Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology & Volcanology

The 2022 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists is awarded to Fabian B. Wadsworth for outstanding research in the field of experimental volcanology.

Fabian Wadsworth is rapidly emerging as a leader in the international volcanology community. His work, characterised by innovation in the laboratory, effective development and application of theoretical mathematical models, physics-based scaling, and forensic precision in the field, is impressive not only in its quality but also its breadth. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of numerous volcanological processes, including the dynamics of magma droplets and sintering processes, gas flow in porous magma, the ways in which multiphase magmas fracture and re-heal in response to stress, and the formation of volcanic glass.

Among his many achievements is an elegant and paradigm-shifting explanation for the long-standing paradoxical observation of the co-existence of effusive and explosive silicic eruptions. He has shown that silicic volcanism, previously framed as either violently explosive or gently effusive, always involves explosive fragmentation. In other words, the ascent of silicic lavas is not gentle at all, but involves a continuous combination of conduit blocking, fragmentation, and sintering. Developing this understanding of such a fundamental process would be considered an excellent achievement for a lifetime of work, but Wadsworth has managed this feat within just five years of the award of his PhD.
Another important research strand has resulted in expansion of the frontier of in situ high-temperature synchrotron-source X-ray tomography techniques to enable experimental validation of his new theoretical model for welding of ash and pyroclasts. This fundamental result provides a novel theory of sintering, enlarging our understanding of the fundamental physics of time-dependent porous media, with applications to industrial manufacture of glass and ceramics.

A true polymath, Wadsworth’s published sphere of research extends far beyond micro-scale magma dynamics, and even outside the geosciences more generally: previous projects have involved the evolution of language in the works of Sylvia Plath and other modern poets; the vitrification of forts in European antiquity; and the synthesis of nature, science, and art.

Wadsworth’s scientific achievements, commitment to his community, active mentorship and support of other Early Career Scientists, and future potential are simply outstanding: he is a worthy recipient of the GMPV Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award for 2022.