Concord Geosciences Professor Achieves Major Milestone Toward Open Access Volcano Science

 ATHENS, W.Va. – An international team led by Dr. Stephen Kuehn, an associate professor in the Environmental Geosciences program at Concord University, and three other scientists has reached another milestone in their effort to make the world’s volcano science data openly available.

In late July, their report “Community established best practice recommendations for tephra studies—from collection through analysis” was published in the nature journal Scientific Data. The report is open access and free for anyone to read. It may be found online at: .

The team’s work focuses on improving data practices and digital systems for researchers who work with material produced by explosive volcanic eruptions – i.e. volcanic ash and pumice, also known collectively as tephra. Research on tephra plays an essential role in understanding past volcanic activity and its impact on climate and the environment as well as the potential hazards from current and future eruptions. Widespread layers of ash from past eruptions also provide time markers that are important for many kinds of geoscience studies, archaeology, and more.

“The new report in Nature Scientific Data is the latest achievement in a more than ten-year effort to make volcano science data better documented and openly available to all,”

Dr. Stephen Kuehn

The group also organized the Tephra Fusion 2022 workshop earlier this year, contributed to development of a geosciences field app called StraboSpot, and co-developed a web portal hosted by the EarthChem database.

“These developments support better volcano science as well as public interests,” says Dr. Kuehn.
The main organizers and the first four authors on the report are Kristi Wallace from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Volcano Observatory, Dr. Marcus Bursik of the University at Buffalo, Concord’s Dr. Kuehn, and Dr. Andrei Kurbatov of the University of Maine. The National Science Foundation’s EarthCube program, the U.S. Geological Survey, the IAVCEI Commission on Tephrochronology, and other organizations supported effort which led to the new report.

 “This really is just the foundation. We still need to develop next-generation data systems based on the work so far.”

Dr. Stephen Kuehn

One of those next efforts has already begun. Concord computer science students are working to build a new database system for Concord’s electron microprobe lab, and other laboratories will be able to adopt this system in the future.

To learn more about Concord University’s Environmental Geoscience Program, please visit

Lindsey Byars
Concord University
Office of Advancement
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712
(304) 384-6312

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