Ben Kennedy

ProfessorBen Kennedy

Physical Volcanology
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 213
Internal Phone: 94437
My research and teaching are driven by a love of volcanoes, and learning. I focus on projects that are fun, exciting, and important to society.


Research Interests

I love learning and teaching about rocks. I strive make an impact in two main areas of research are (1) why do volcanoes erupt and (2) what are the best ways to learn and teach about planet Earth. My research is driven by trans-disciplinary and novel collaborations between Science, Education, Engineering and Arts. The research questions that I work on are sourced from the needs of society relating to education and hazard awareness. To do this I talk to as many people as possible from schools, international universities, research institutes, government, and industry. My research is then taken up by government organisation who decide how to monitor volcanoes and make hazard maps. I also see uptake in changing the ways lecturers and teachers teach- which affects thousands of students.
I am also driven by an insatiable curiosity and sense of fun and adventure. I also get to travel to various volcanoes all around New Zealand (e.g. Tongariro, Ruapehu, White Island, Auckland, Banks Peninsula and the world (e.g. Krafla, Iceland, Puyueyue, Chile, Kilauea, Hawaii, Yasur, Vanuatu) and collect rocks.

Some fun projects I am involved in at the moment are:
Researching how students learn on virtual and real fieldtrips.
Developing online tools for digital storytelling around volcanic hazards
Doing earthquake experiments to shake magma and understand links with volcanic eruptions.
Communicating and teaching science around drilling into a magma chamber at Krafla in Iceland to make geothermal energy.
Mapping the hazard and impact from volcanic ballistics using drones and cannons.
Making lava flows in the lab and mapping lava flows on Ruapehu
Linking eruption video observations with monitoring data at White island, New Zealand and Yasur, Vanuatu.

Recent Publications

  • Kendrick JE., Schaefer LN., Schauroth J., Bell AF., Lamb OD., Lamur A., Miwa T., Coats R., Lavallée Y. and Kennedy BM. (2021) Physical and mechanical rock properties of a heterogeneous volcano: The case of Mount Unzen, Japan. Solid Earth 12(3): 633-664.
  • Kereszturi G., Schaefer L., Mead S., Miller C., Procter J. and Kennedy B. (2021) Synthesis of hydrothermal alteration, rock mechanics and geophysical mapping to constrain failure and debris avalanche hazards at Mt. Ruapehu (New Zealand). New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 64(2-3): 421-442.
  • Kilgour G., Kennedy B., Scott B., Christenson B., Jolly A., Asher C., Rosenberg M. and Saunders K. (2021) Whakaari/White Island: a review of New Zealand’s most active volcano. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 64(2-3): 273-295.
  • Leonard GS., Cole RP., Christenson BW., Conway CE., Cronin SJ., Gamble JA., Hurst T., Kennedy BM., Miller CA. and Procter JN. (2021) Ruapehu and Tongariro stratovolcanoes: a review of current understanding. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 64(2-3): 389-420.
  • Montanaro C., Cronin SJ., Scheu B., Kennedy B., Scott BJ. and Dingwell DB. (2021) Host Rock Variability Powers the Diversity of Steam-Driven Eruptions. Geophysical Research Letters 48(1)