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Meet Gro Birkefeldt Møller Pedersen


Geologist with remote sensing and volcanology expertise.

Job description: 

Doing volcano research at the University. This includes investigating how data from satellites and planes can help us understand the history of volcanic activity - independent of whether the volcano is on Earth or other planets in the solar system.

Work background: 

Through the last 10 years I have worked at universities and volcano observatories in Iceland, Denmark and Hawaii.

Favourite part of job: 

I actually like the combination of the various tasks in my job. I love the field work, the analyses and the writing revealing the untold stories of the volcanoes. Getting ideas for new projects and last but not least taking part in conferences around the world and meeting equally crazy volcano people!

Least favourite part of job: 

The eternal hunt for money to finance the research.

What I am working on now: 

Hekla volcano and the recent Holuhraun eruption in the Barðabunga volcanic system, both in Iceland.

A quick story about a job well done: 

My current work on Hekla volcano where we mapped the volcano in various ways, including aerial surveys and new historical lava maps. It is a great pleasure to interact with the locals and show them the new maps and hear their stories of the volcanic eruptions that happened in their life time.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

A few years ago I had a field trip where we installed calibration targets for the aerial survey of Hekla. We had been in the field for a few days and had everything prepared, when we got the message that the camera onboard the plane was broken, and it was unknown if the plane would come at all.

It was really hard to accept that despite good preparation, you can never prepare for everything and there is absolutely nothing you can do. Luckily the plane did come after 6 weeks, so in the end we got the data and we were extremely happy, knowing that we could not take it for granted.


Geology BSc, Geology MSc and Planetary volcanology PhD.

Interests outside work: 

Climbing, hiking and travelling, search and rescue and getting amazed by this and the other planets in the solar system.

Gro Birkefeldt Møller Pedersen is a Postdoctoral research fellow at the Nordic Volcanological Center in Iceland. Image: University of Iceland.