Ms Elaine R Smid

BA Environmental Science/Chemistry, MSc Geology & Geophysics

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Research Assistant
Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


I am originally from Virginia, USA, and have worked and studied geology and/or volcanology in my home state (UVA, BA, 2000), Hawai'i (UHM, MSc, 2004), and California. ​

I have been a research and project management assistant at the University of Auckland since 2008, first at the Institute of Earth Science and Engineering (IESE) and now at the School of Environment. My appointments have allowed me to gain extensive experience as a geothermal geologist and volcanologist, the latter through working on the VOlcanic Risk in Saudi Arabia (VORiSA; 2010 - 2013) and DEtermining VOlcanic Risk in Auckland (DEVORA; 2008 - ) projects. I currently serve on the project management and research teams for DEVORA. I am also very involved in science communication and outreach endeavours.

In addition to these responsibilities, I started a part-time PhD in geochemistry and volcanology in May 2014.

Research | Current


I am interested in all aspects of volcanology, but particularly the analytical techniques we can use to examine magma properties and how these can be used to predict and/or prepare for volcanic hazards. A good example of this is how magma volatile (CO2, H2O, Cl, S, F) contents influence magma ascent rates and rheology. These characteristics, if constrained, can inform how we monitor volcanoes and help emergency planners prepare for eruptions/unrest, potentially saving lives. This is what motivates me as a scientist. This motivation also drives my keen interest in communicating my science to the public, media, and decision-makers such as emergency planners and lifelines representatives.


DOCTORAL RESEARCH TOPIC: The Volatile Life of Auckland Magmas: Mantle Sources, Magma Ascent Rates, and Gas Emissions


  • Better characterise mantle sources in the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF), New Zealand, via analyses of olivine-hosted melt inclusions; 
  • Estimate magma ascent rates in the shallow crust from volatile concentration gradients within melt embayments in the AVF to improve warning times prior to future eruptions; and
  • Calculate past gas emissions in the AVF from volatile concentrations within melt inclusions and groundmass glass; extrapolate this data to determine potential gas emissions and fluxes future eruptions; and apply this knowledge to AVF eruption scenarios to better prepare Auckland for gas hazards. 

Doctoral Supervision (University of Auckland): 
Jan M. Lindsay 
Michael C. Rowe
Joel Baker

Doctoral Support: 
The University of Auckland
The DEVORA Project
The Royal Society of New Zealand


Other Research

  • Chronology of the AVF (DEVORA)
  • Measuring base surge runout distances and tephra extents in the AVF (DEVORA)
  • Monitoring soil gas CO2 fluxes, concentrations, and d13C values in the AVF (DEVORA)
  • Analysis of olivine populations and Cr-spinel inclusions in Pupuke Volcano lavas, AVF (DEVORA)
  • Monitoring changes in subsurface structures on Whakaari (White Island) Volcano, New Zealand, using GPR and soil gas CO2 fluxes
  • Monitoring changes in geothermal surface features in geothermal fields in and near Taupo, New Zealand



co-PI, EQC Biennial Research Grant, "How long have we got to act? Magma ascent rates in the Auckland Volcanic Field" (2016 - 2018)

Project Tongariro Memorial Award, Tongariro Natural History Society (2016)

Hutton Fund Award, Royal Society of New Zealand (2015)

Goldschmidt Conference Student Grant (2015) 

R N Brothers Memorial Award, University of Auckland School of Environment (2014)

Dean of Science Doctoral Scholarship, University of Auckland (2014 - present)



Application of Diffusion Studies to the Determination of Timescales in Geochemistry and Petrology, A joint, 5-day Mineralogical Society of America Workshop / Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft (DMG, German Mineralogical Society) Short Course; Instructors: Prof. S. Chakraborty, Dr. R. Dohmen. August 2015.



Please see this article for information about my DEVORA project management responsibilities.

Areas of expertise

Volcanology; Volcanic Hazard; Monogenetic Volcanism; Timescales of Magmatic Processes; Volcano Monitoring (Soil Gas CO2); Science Project Management and Team Communication; Public Outreach and Education

Committees/Professional groups/Services


  • American Geophysical Union
  • Geoscience Society of New Zealand
  • Mineralogical Society of America
  • International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI)
  • IAVCEI Commission on Monogenetic Volcanism
  • Auckland GeoClub
  • Geological Society of America
  • tongariro Natural History Society
  • Vhub (


  • Co-coordinator, DEVORA Outreach Group, University of Auckland School of Environment (SoE)
  • Meeting Organiser, SoE Hazards and Disasters Research Theme (2014-2015)
  • DEVORA Media Alert Liaison
  • DEVORA Project Communications Planner


  • Fourth International Maar Conference Local Organising Committee (2012)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Rowe, M. C., Graham, D. W., Smid, E., & McGee, L. (2020). Unusually homogeneous helium isotope composition of the Auckland Volcanic Field and its implications for the underlying mantle. CHEMICAL GEOLOGY, 54510.1016/j.chemgeo.2020.119639
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Rowe
  • Hopkins, J. L., Smid, E. R., Eccles, J. D., Hayes, J. L., Hayward, B. W., McGee, L. E., ... Leonard, G. S. (2020). Auckland Volcanic Field magmatism, volcanism, and hazard: a review. NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS10.1080/00288306.2020.1736102
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Eccles, Kasper van Wijk, Ian Smith, Jan Lindsay, Shane Cronin
  • Hayes, J., Tsang, S. W., Fitzgerald, R. H., Blake, D. M., Deligne, N. I., Doherty, A., ... Leonard, G. S. (2018). The DEVORA scenarios: multi-hazard eruption scenarios for the Auckland Volcanic Field. , 2018 Lower Hutt: GNS Science.10.21420/G20652
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sophia Tsang, Jan Lindsay
  • Leonard, G. S., Calvert, A. T., Hopkins, J. L., Wilson, C. J. N., Smid, E. R., Lindsay, J. M., & Champion, D. E. (2017). High-precision 40 Ar/ 39 Ar dating of Quaternary basalts from Auckland Volcanic Field, New Zealand, with implications for eruption rates and paleomagnetic correlations. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 343, 60-74. 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.05.033
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay
  • Kenedi, K. L., Smid, E., Howe, T., Lindsay, J. M., & Leonard, G. (2016). DEVORA 2021: A new outcome-based focus to determining volcanic risk in Auckland. Paper presented at Geoscience Society of New Zealand Annual Conference, Wanaka, New Zealand. 28 November - 1 December 2016.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay
  • Deligne, N. I., Lindsay, J. M., & Smid, E. (2015). An integrated approach to determining volcanic risk in auckland, new zealand: The multi-disciplinary DEVORA project. Global Volcanic Hazards and Risk (pp. 233-237). 10.1017/CBO9781316276273.007
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay
  • Mazot, A., Smid, E., Schwendenmann, L., Delgado-Granados, H., & Lindsay, J. (2013). Soil CO2 flux baseline in an urban monogenetic volcanic field: the Auckland Volcanic Field, New Zealand. Bulletin of Volcanology, 75 (11), 1-9. 10.1007/s00445-013-0757-7
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Luitgard Schwendenmann, Jan Lindsay
  • Lindsay, J. M., Leonard, G. S., Smid, E. R., & Hayward, B. W. (2011). Age of the Auckland Volcanic Field: a review of existing data. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 54 (4), 379-401. 10.1080/00288306.2011.595805
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jan Lindsay


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 5, Room 541
New Zealand

Social links

Web links