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Clive Oppenheimer BA PhD

Clive Oppenheimer BA PhD

Professor of Volcanology

Volcanic & magmatic processes; impacts of volcanism and geohazards; 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 climatic and societal impacts of eruptions; volcanic hazards; and obsidian archaeology. His research integrates field, laboratory, palaeoenvironmental, analytical and numerical approaches. He has spent 13 field seasons investigating Mount Erebus, Antarctica, and has ongoing projects in Chad, DPR (North) Korea, Ethiopia, Vanuatu and the USA. Some of his work contributes to underdstanding of volcanic hazards, and he collaborates closely with several volcano observatories worldwide. Clive relishes collaborations at the nexus between the natural sciences, arts and humanities, and more specifically between nature and visual culture. He made the film INTO THE INFERNO (2016) with Werner Herzog, and continues to be deeply involved in documentary filmmaking.

Clive is founding member of Cambridge Volcanology


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Public engagement

Selected speaking engagements

  • Literature festival, Royal Museums Greenwich, 2018
  • Explorers Festival, Húsavík, Iceland, 2018
  • 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

Broadcast media

  • 2018, The Infinite Monkey Cage, BBC Radio 4
  • 2017, Le mystérieux volcan du Moyen Âge, ARTE, Channel 4, PBS, Nova, Contributor
  • 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
  • 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)


  • Member of International Jury for BOGRAFILM festival, Bologna, 2017
  • 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