Voluntary Programme of Student Assistance

The opportunity exists for enthusiastic students to assist with research at Volcán de Colima. The minimum period is usually two months, but preference is given to those who can stay for longer. Various projects are in progress, the overall goal being to produce a dynamic model to explain its behaviour. Time will be spent assisting with field and lab work, including: routine collection of water and gas samples, maintenance of installed sensors, development of new systems, geophysical surveys and analysis of data. The person should have at least a degree in geology or a related earth science with plenty of field experience or in physics. Experience driving four-wheeled vehicles off-road would be useful, as would some knowledge of Spanish. A reasonable level of fitness is necessary for hiking at altitude.

At Colima you will have many opportunities to develop your talents as a scientist and to learn what it is really like to work with real data from a currently erupting volcano. The work will include both laboratory and fieldwork, with the opportunity to be involved in the maintenance and installation of equipment, the development of analysis methodologies, collection of field data and to contribute in many ways to the monitoring and research activities currently carried out at CIIV. Some students prefer to concentrate on a specific project during their stay, whilst others try their hand at many different types of analysis to broaden their experience in volcanology and data processing. On this website you can get a good idea of the variety of projects being undertaken and the different ways which might contribute during a period at Colima.

I have received many different students since 2004, some with their academic pathway clearly mapped out, whilst others wanted to try working on a volcano to help them decide in which direction they wanted to continue their career. All are welcome. All I ask for is enthusiasm and commitment. Guidance will be limited for much of the time so you need to work using your own initiative, but the assistance of other volunteers will always be available.

Much of our work is aimed at the goal of producing a dynamic model to explain aspects of behaviour of Volcán de Colima, such as transitions between the explosive and effusive regimes. Field and lab work might include routine collection of data to be used as part of the monitoring network (thermal, spring water, SO2 flux and ash samples), investigation of recent extrusions and deposits (lava domes and flows, pyroclastic flows and lahars), geophysical surveys etc. Analysis is carried out of a wide variety of data types. Fieldwork can include camping and hiking at high altitude. For students that choose specific topics to develop and are in Colima for longer, the possibility exists to participate in a publication. Other Mexican volcanoes that have been visited by students as part of ongoing projects include: Isla Socorro, El Chichón and Tacaná.

It should be noted that no salary can be paid, but cheap accommodation is available. Start can be anytime. Also it is possible to carry out fieldwork for a project for your degree or masters thesis. Various students from universities in the UK and USA have done this.

Some examples of activities can be seen here:

  • Activities
  • Special activities

If interested please email Dr. Nick Varley, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Colima.

More information to download:

Other student volunteer programs

PIRE-Partnership for Volcanological Research and Education