Dr. Portner's Research


My current interest in submarine volcanology and sedimentology is fueled by persistent debate about decade-old and emerging questions. The connections between volcaniclastic deposits sampled from the seafloor, and their surface transport processes, inferred eruption styles and underlying origins remains unclear.

My ongoing research aims to answer, if not to better understand these fundamental questions:

  • In what way do tectono-magmatic processes influence the petrogenesis, ascent and eruption style of magma onto the seafloor?
  • How are these factors preserved by the physical evolution and stratigraphy of a seamount?
  • How do the extreme environmental conditions on the deep seafloor influence volatile exsolution and magma fragmentation at great depth?
  • What control does the hydrosphere and seafloor geomorphology have on volcaniclast transport and deposition?

Our ability to address these and other fundamental questions is continually expanding with technological advancements in marine geology/geophysics and direct observations of active deep-sea eruptions. My ongoing and future research objectives are to better understand the origins, physical processes and products of deep-sea eruptions through remotely operated vehicle (ROV) observations, autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) mapping, laboratory analysis on samples, and comparisons with ancient analogs exposed on land.

These objectives are built into my research projects outlined below:

Alacron Rise, Gulf of California

Image of Alacron Rise

Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca Ridge

Photo of Axial Seamount

Macquarie Island Ophiolite, Southern Ocean
Image of Macquarie Island