Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography
Room F 8.15
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels | Belgium

+32-2-629 35 56
  • Structural deformation of volcanic systems: caldera and sinkhole collapse, gravitational sagging and spreading of volcanic edifices, intrusion-induced deformation (current PhD work)
  • Volcanic hazard assessment in populated areas: phreatomagmatic deposits, lava flow inundation, vent opening susceptibility, morphometry of large and small volcanoes
  • Field work on predominantly Central-African volcanoes but also Europe: Karthala volcano (Comoros), Virunga Volcanic Province (DRCongo, Rwanda), Mt. Cameroon (Cameroon), Oslo fjord (Norway)
  • Employed tools include: structural and stratigraphical field mapping, photogrammetry (lab & field), analogue sandbox modeling, X-ray CT imaging and image analysis, numerical lava flow modeling, radiocarbon dating and geochemical analysis of volcanic rocks.

Ongoing Project:

Since October 2014, I am conducting research as an FWO-Flanders PhD aspirant at the VUB Volcanology, Geomorphology and Natural Hazards group of Prof. Matthieu Kervyn.

I focus on deformation induced by magmatic intrusions in brittle and elasto-plastic host-rocks analogue to the Earth’s upper crust. We are developing laboratory-scaled analogue models of fluid injection into granular materials, which we image and analyse with state-of-the-art laboratory techniques, including X-Ray Computed Tomography (XCT), in collaboration with UZBrussel. We compare the quantitative modeling results with natural, now solidified magmatic intrusions exposed at natural volcanoes worldwide.

The results of this project will contribute to the understanding of magma intrusion events, and help a more accurate forecasting of eruptive events at volcanoes worldwide through a better interpretation of geophysical volcano monitoring data. Similar processes apply to other examples of fluid injection into brittle materials e.g. the propagation of geothermal fluids through cracks, ‘fracking’ – fluid injection in explored gas-holding shale.

Past projects:

  • 2012-2014: Researcher, VUBrussel: GeoRisca project ‘GeoRisk in Central-Africa’: Volcanic hazard assessments in the Virunga Volcanic Province, DRC and Rwanda.

  • 2011-2012: M.Sc. thesis, Ghent University: “Caldera collapse on basaltic shield volcanoes: comparing analogue models and the Karthala caldera complex, Grande Comore”.

  • 2009: B.Sc. project, Ghent University: “Influence of spreading and intrusion on deformation at elongated volcanoes via analogue modeling, applied to Mt. Cameroon, Cameroon”


  • Poppe, S, P. Holohan, E, Pauwels, E, Cnudde, V & Kervyn De Meerendre, M 2015, Sinkholes, pit craters, and small calderas: Analog models of depletion-induced collapse analyzed by computed X-ray microtomography. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 127, 281-296, DOI: 10.1130/B30989.1
  • Poppe, S, Smets, B, Fontijn, K, Bagalwa Rukeza, M, De Marie Fikiri Mugabo, A, Birimwiragi Namogo, D, Kyambikwa Milungu, A, Kervyn, F & Kervyn De Meerendre, M 2016, Holocene phreatomagmatic eruptions alongside the densely populated northern shoreline of Lake Kivu, East African Rift: timing and hazard implications. Bulletin of Volcanology, 78, 82.
  • Smets, B, Delvaux, D, Ross, K-A, Poppe, S, Kervyn De Meerendre, M, d'Oreye, N & Kervyn, F 2016, The role of inherited crustal structures and magmatism in the development of rift segments: Insights from the Kivu basin, western branch of the East African Rift. Tectonophysics, 683, 62-76.
  • Mossoux, S, Delcamp, A, Poppe, S, Michellier, C, Canters, F & Kervyn De Meerendre, M 2016, Hazagora: will you survive the next disaster? – A serious game to raise awareness about geohazards and disaster risk reduction. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 16, 1-13. DOI: 10.5194/nhess-16-1-2016
  • Mossoux, S, Saey, M, Bartolini, S, Poppe, S, Canters, F & Kervyn De Meerendre, M 2016, Q-LAVHA: A flexible GIS plugin to simulate lava flows. Computers & Geosciences, 97, 98-109.
  • Barette, F, Poppe, S, Smets, B, Benbakkar, M & Kervyn, M 2017, Spatial variation of volcanic rock geochemistry in the Virunga Volcanic Province: Statistical analysis of an integrated database. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 134, 888-903. DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2016.09.018

Book chapters

  • Delcamp, A, Poppe, S, Detienne, M & Paguican, EM 2018, Destroying a volcanic edifice - interactions between edifice instabilities and the volcanic plumbing system. in S Burchardt (ed.), Volcanic and Igneous Plumbing Systems: Understanding Magma Transport, Storage, and Evolution in the Earth's Crust. Elsevier, pp. 231-257.

Visual products

  • Smets, B & Poppe, S 2016, Volcanological map of Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo, Virunga Volcanic Province, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium.
  • FWO Aspirant PhD scholarship October 2014 – September 2019 (extended)
  • 2014: Grant from the Belgian foundation ‘Vocatio’; Project: ‘Modern Volcanology as a tool for volcanic risk assessment on Karthala Volcano, Grande Comore Island’.