Associate professor

Volcanology & Mineralogy

Phone: +32 2 650 22 37

Email: Karen.Fontijn@ulb.be


Research interests

I am a physical volcanologist interested in tephrostratigraphic studies of poorly-known volcanoes, in order to constrain past eruptive behaviour. This allows us to assess how the volcano behaves, and changes over time, and which can contribute to volcanic hazard assessment. This type of work is strongly based on detailed field studies and is complemented with geochronological, petrological, geochemical, textural and sedimentological data. Using these combined datasets, we can obtain constraints on frequency-magnitude relationships, eruptive and pre-eruptive parameters, and understand the factors that control the behaviour of volcanoes and individual eruptions, both at a local and regional scale. By integrating terrestrial with lacustrine sediment records, we can furthermore reconstruct high-resolution age models of volcanic activity at a regional scale, which can be used to fine-tune age models of various palaeoenvironmental archives, and also to investigate interactions of volcanic activity and the environment. 

In our group, we work on volcanoes in different tectonic settings, from continental rift volcanoes in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, to oceanic and continental arc volcanoes in the Philippines, Indonesia and Chile. A better understanding of the volcanic geology and most recent (ca. last 10,000 years) eruptive histories as well as eruptive styles at these volcanoes is a fundamental contribution to volcanic hazard assessment and risk mitigation. We are also interested in understanding the natural resources related to volcanism. Particularly in East Africa many rift volcanoes offer vast geothermal resources that are equally important in the context of sustainable development. 

If you are interested in working with me, please get in touch.



  • GEOL-F301: Mineralogy
  • GEOL-F306: Crystallography and Applied Mineralogy
  • CHIM-F207: Crystallochemistry
  • GEOL-F312: Research Project and Science Communication


  • GEOL-F4002: Volcanology
  • GEOL-F408: Volcanic Terrains – Field trip

Synoptic CV

2020 – Present : Associate professor, Université libre de Bruxelles

2018 – 2020 : Assistant professor, Université libre de Bruxelles

2012 – 2018 : Post-doctoral research associate, University of Oxford

2011 : Research fellow, Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University

2011 : PhD in Sciences: Geology, Ghent University

2006 : Master of Science: Geology, Ghent University


For a full and up-to-date publication list, see Google Scholar