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Clive Oppenheimer BA PhD

Clive Oppenheimer BA PhD

Professor of Volcanology

Volcanic & magmatic processes; impacts of volcanism; environmental sensing; geoarchaeology; palaeoenvironments; documentary filmmaking


  • since 1994: University Teaching Officer, University of Cambridge.
  • 2010-11: "Le Studium" Research Associate, Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orléans
  • 2007-08: Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Fellow, New Mexico Tech.
  • 1993-94: Earth Observation Fellow (NERC), University of Cambridge;
  • 1991-93: Research Assistant & visiting research fellow, Open University & NASA JPL.
  • 1987: Seismologist, Geophysics Division, DSIR, Wellington, NZ.


  • BA (Cantab) Natural Sciences
  • PhD (Open University) Volcanology


Clive Oppenheimer has wide-ranging interests in magmatic and volcanic processes, the long-range impacts of eruptions, and volcanic hazards. His research integrates field, laboratory, analytical and computational approaches. He has spent 13 field seasons investigating Mount Erebus, Antarctica, and is currently involved in studies of volcanoes in Chad, DPR (North) Korea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Nicaragua and the USA. In addition to his work on active volcanoes, Clive researches large eruptions of the past and their impacts on climate and society using multi-proxy evidence. Some of his work is relevant to volcanic hazard assessment – he collaborates closely with several volcanological institutes worldwide. He made the film INTO THE INFERNO (2016) with Werner Herzog, and maintains his interests in documentary filmmaking and collaborations at the nexus between volcanology and the arts and humanities.

Clive is founding member of Cambridge Volcanology


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Public engagement

Speaking engagements

  • Geoff Brown Lecture, Open University, Milton Keynes, 2017
  • Cambridge Science Festival, 2017
  • Our explosive past: How humans survived catastrophe, British Museum, 2013
  • Vesuvius: a volcano, its history and legacy, British Museum (with Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and Iain Stewart), 2013
  • Museum Lecture, American Museum of Natural History, New York, 2013
  • "Thinking Aloud", Wordfest, Cambridge literary festival, 2012
  • Cambridge Science Festival, 2012
  • Telegraph Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, 2011
  • Monday evening lecture, Royal Geographical Society, 2010
  • Geological Society of London, invited speaker for bicentennial lecture series, 2007
  • Gordon Manley Lecture, Royal Holloway University of London, 2006

Broadcast media

  • 2017, The Museum of Curiosity, BBC Radio 4
  • 2016, Midweek, BBC Radio 4
  • 2016, In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, 1816, the Year without a Summer
  • 2016, Into the Inferno, Netflix, Co-film maker with Werner Herzog; inspired by Eruptions that Shook the World; official selection at Telluride, Toronto, Rome, Cambridge and DOC NYC film festivals (all 2016)

Image result for netflix into the inferno

  • 2015, The power of volcanoes, ZDF, Consultant
  • 2015, The Erebus Enigma, Red Bull Media House, Main protagonist and consultant (Antarctica)
  • 2014, End of the World Night, Channel 4, Contributor (Cambridge)
  • 2014, Strangest weather on Earth, The Weather Channel, Contributor (Cambridge)
  • 2014, The changing UK climate, Channel 4, Contributor (Cambridge; British Antarctic Survey)
  • 2013, Countdown to a Catastrophe, ZDF (Germany), Contributor (in Antarctica) & camera-work; 12 million viewers in Germany
  • 2013, Sleepless Planet Earth, Korean Broadcasting System, Contributor (in NZ)
  • 2013, How the Earth Works, Discovery, Contributor (Iceland)
  • 2012, Volcano Live, BBC, Contributor & camerawork
  • 2012, The Forum, BBC World Service
  • 2011, How to build a volcano, National Geographic TV / Discovery Channel, Consultant
  • 2011, Frozen Planet, BBC, Contributor (Antarctica)
  • 2010, Earth's deadliest eruption, The History Chanel, Contributor (Cambridge)
  • 2009, How science works – Journey to Etna, Teachers' TV
  • 2009, Raging Planet – Volcano, Discovery Channel, Contributor, (Mt. Etna, Stromboli & Kawah Ijen)
  • 2008, Earth – the Power of the Planet, BBC, Contributor & consultant (Erta 'Ale, Ethiopia)
  • 2007, Encounters at the End of the Word, Werner Herzog, Contributor (Antarctica)
  • 2001, Lava Lake, National Geographic, Main contributor and consultant, Ethiopia
  • 2001, Under the Volcano, National Geographic, Contributor (Italy)
  • 1999, Volcanoes, Discovery Channel, Contributor (Oldionyo Lengai, Tanzania)


  • Re-discovered 'lost' campsites of 'Terra Nova' Antarctic expedition on Mt. Erebus used by a party of Scott's men led by geologist Raymond Priestly and including Frank Debenham (founder of SPRI). Now recognized under the Antarctic Treaty System's catalogue of Historic Sites and Monuments (#89 and #90). Armin Linke & Clive Oppenheimer, 2008, Precise and Tolerant (16 min) a four screen video installation presented at CERSAIE 2008, Bologna.

Still from Precise and Tolerant