I am now approaching a whole five months of my PhD so far and it has been a great experience. It has dawned on me over the past few weeks, how multidisciplinary the field of volcanology is. My own work (so far) has stretched across multiple fields already such as remote sensing, statistics and mathematics, physics and chemistry, all in the pursuit of greater knowledge and understanding of volcanoes. For example understanding the chemistry of rocks allows us to understand how they may behave and act beneath the surface. Then, physics can help us to understand how bubbles move in the magma prior to emission at the surface which is then captured by remote sensing techniques.
This reminds me of something I came across during a lecture on the philosophy of geography during my undergraduate degree in the form of a statement about geography:
Geography - a jack of all trades or a master of none?
Personally I think this is phrase is redundant. Increasingly the focus of research is inter-disciplinary (and it is easier to get research funding if you can prove it!) so I believe it is more of an advantage to have a handle-hold on many subjects/disciplines - be knowledgeable in multiple areas. However, when you delve deeper everyone has their specialty subject area; you could be an expert on climate and volcanoes, gas and volcanoes or the petrology of rocks. I guess this just emphasizes the importance of working with others to combine expertise. Going back to the original statement, 'geography - a jack of all trades or a master of none', in the academic world very few people would define themselves as a geographer, they could be an economic geographer, climatologist, hydrologist or ecologist and you could even subdivide these further! A geographer can be a specialist in his particular area whilst also have a grasp on other areas, whilst not being a master of all of these other areas, furthering scientific understanding means taking a multidisciplinary approach which couldn't be done by the master of just one trade.