My research focuses on an ignimbrite flare-up (a period of heightened caldera-forming volcanic activity) in the Taupō Volcanic Zone of New Zealand that occurred between 350,000 and 240,000 years ago. I am using geochemical techniques to investigate the crust and mantle processes that drove the flare-up and the architecture of the magmatic systems feeding each eruption. The techniques I am using include XRF (whole-rock chemistry), SEM-EDS (glass major element chemistry), LA-ICP-MS (glass trace element chemistry), plasma-ICP-MS (Pb, Nd, Hf, and Sr isotopes), and rhyolite-MELTS geobarometry.
I also have a MSc in Geology from the University of Canterbury. My Masters research focused on the provenance of the Taranaki Basin sedimentary succession exposed in northwest Nelson, New Zealand. This research involved detailed fieldwork to characterize the depositional environment of the units and collect samples, petrographic study of sandstone samples, and whole-rock geochemical analysis of conglomerate clasts and sedimentary samples.
Working thesis titleRhyolitic magma system of the 350 – 240 ka ignimbrite flare-up, Taupō Volcanic Zone, New Zealand
Smithies, S. L., Bassett, K. N., Browne, G. H., & Nichols, A. R. L. (2019). Provenance of the Pakawau Group and Farewell Formation (Late Cretaceous – Paleocene), Taranaki Basin, northwest Nelson, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 63(1), 1-34. doi:10.1080/00288306.2019.1603164