Photograph of Dr Carina Fearnley.Dr Carina Fearnley

Lecturer in Environmental Hazards
BSc Geology (Imperial College London)
MSc Mineral Project Appraisal (Imperial College London)
PhD (University College London)


Office: E10
Phone: +44 (0)1970 622780
Fax: +44 (0)1970 622659
Personal Web Site:


  • Athena Swan (charter for women in science) representative for DGES
  • Student Geography Society ‘Geogsoc’ staff liaison officer
  • National Science and Engineering Week Coordinator for DGES

Teaching Areas

Module coordinator for:

  • Geohazards (EA22810)
  • Volcanic Activity: Hazards And Environmental Change (EA30420)

Contribute to:

  • Environmental Management  (EA20110)
  • Geography Tutorial (GG22110)
  • Geography Dissertation (GG34040)
  • Geography Fieldwork - New Zealand North (GG22400)


Group Affiliation

Current Projects

  • The Future of Ruins: Reclaiming Abandonment and Toxicity on Hashima Island funded by the AHRC Care for the Future theme.
  • Volcanic Warning and Response Systems: an Evaluation of the UK Ash Alert during the Eyjafjallajökull Eruption, 14-20 April 2010 (Aberystwyth University Research Grant 2011)

Previous Research Projects

  • Understanding the Potential New Roles for Mobile Computer Technologies for Teaching Geography Fieldwork: using GIS and Social Networking to Enhance Learning Opportunities (Learning and Teaching Enhancement Fund for Wales 2011) PDF

Research interests:

Carina's research lies within the field of Disaster Risk Reduction, focusing on the role of understanding and communicating uncertainty, risk, and complexity to develop resilience to natural and environmental hazards. Specifically this research focuses on the need to reconceptualise natural hazard early warning systems by using interdisciplinary approaches to develop a better understanding of the physical and social sciences involved.

To date, investigations on the interactions between the construction of scientific knowledge, uncertainty and riskhaveused both theoretical and empirical approaches at volcano observatories in the United States. Current and future research reviews a number of different country’s volcanic observatories with the aim of further:

  1. charting the relationship between scientific uncertainty and risk in warning decision-making practices
  2. establishing and evaluating innovative methods to manage complexities via communication tools within natural disasters
  3. developing policy and best practicesto improve early warning systems through adopting precautionary approaches and deliberative processes that bring together different actors to identify and manage natural hazards

Additionally Carina's research explores the implications of the standardisation and globalisation of volcano alert level systems with the goal of establishing best practices that can contribute to current debate within the UNISDR concerning how to develop global platforms for early warning systems.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of Carina's research her work encompasses the study of the following disciplines: the philosophy and sociology of scientific knowledge; complexity theory; sociological approaches to scientific uncertainty and risk; science communication and policy development; volcanological studies; earth sciences; geography;  and disaster / environmental hazard studies, to name a few.

Research blog on early warning systems:

Early warning and hazard information:

Follow me on Twitter:

Current PhD Students


Carina has a background in Geology and Mining, studied at Imperial College London (BSc and MSc) completing an exploration geologist internship at Rio Tinto. Before completing her PhD studies at UCL she worked in the London financial sector for three years in investment banking and stock brokering. Her research, as outlined above,  is interdisciplinary bringing together hazard science, disaster management, and science and technology studies to better understand natural hazard early warning systems. She is a strong believer that interdisciplinary work can provide enormous benefit to problems that society face today that traditional disciplines cannot address alone by bringing together the wealth of knowledge and techniques of different disciplines so that a better understanding of the problems can be developed, and consequently effective solutions found.

In 2009 she co-organised an international conference on '‘Disaster Risk Reduction for Natural Hazards' that explored ways to put research into practice ( and is an editor of a related special issue of the journal of Environmental Hazards to be published in January 2012. During 2010-2011 she was involved in the Eyjafjallajökull and Grimvötn ash crisis that affected the UK and Europe, publishing a number of articles and reports, and going on BBC radio and TV.  Carina is also a frequent guest volcanologist at Nature Live events at the Natural History Museum in London.

Carina continues her successful collaboration 'The Other Volcano' with the designer Nelly Ben Hayoun ( that was part of the 2010 Manchester Science Festival and London Design Week (also 2010); exhibited in the London Wellcome Trust window display from 2010-2011; and published in Wired Magazine amongst others. 'The Other Volcano' is now exhibiting at the National Museum of China.

Professional Memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS)
  • Fellow of the Geological Society (FGS)
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Member of the ESRC NERC Science and Policy Interface for Disaster Reduction Network (SPIDER)




Fearnley, C.J. 2013. Assigning a volcano alert level: negotiating uncertainty, risk, and complexity in decision-making processes. Environment and Planning A 45 (8) pp. 1891-1911. 10.1068/a4542 Other



Fearnley, C.J., McGuire, W.J., Davies, G., Twigg, J. 2012. Standardisation of the USGS Volcano Alert Level System (VALS): analysis and ramifications. Bulletin of Volcanology 74 (9) pp. 2023-2036. 10.1007/s00445-012-0645-6

Fearnley, C.J., Lowe, C.J., Wilkinson, E. 2012. Preface. Environmental Hazards 11 (2) pp. 71-73. 10.1080/17477891.2011.614729 Other

Edwards, S.J., Fearnley, C.J., Lowe, C.J., Wilkinson, E. 2012. Disaster risk reduction for natural hazards: Putting research into practice. Environmental Hazards 11 (2) pp. 172-176. 10.1080/17477891.2011.614730 Other

Special issue

Garcia, C., Fearnley, C.J. 2012. Evaluating Critical Links in Early Warning Systems for Natural Hazards. Environmental Hazards 11 (2) pp. 123-137. 10.1080/17477891.2011.609877


Commissioned report

Bunting, P., Fearnley, C. 2011. Understanding the potential new roles for mobile computer technologies for teaching Geography fieldwork: Using GIS and social networking to enhance learning opportunities., The Higher Education Academy Other


Other chapter contribution

Fearnley, C.J. 2009. Early Warning and Early Action - An Introduction (Box 1.1 Early Warning Systems for Volcanoes). Knight, L., World Disasters Report 2009 - Focus on Early Warning, Early Action., International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva pp. 14-17. Other



Barclay, J., Haynes, K., Mitchell, T., Solana, C., Teeuw, R., Darnell, A., Crosweller, H.S., Cole, P., Pyle, D., Lowe, C., Fearnley, C.J., Kelman, I. 2008. Framing volcanic risk communication within disaster risk reduction: finding ways for the social and physical sciences to work together. Geological Society Special Publications pp. 163-177. 10.1144/SP305.14



Fearnley, C.J. 2005. HIV and AIDS Risk Management at Rustenburg Section, Anglo Platinum. Applied Earth Science 114 (3) pp. B146-B153. 10.1179/037174505X45496