|Title||Hazard Mitigation Practical: Predicting a Volcanic Eruption|
|Department||GEMRU, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham GL50 4AZ|
|Tel.||+44 (0)1242 543368|
|Fax.||+44 (0)1242 543283|
This practical introduces concepts which are difficult for students to appreciate, such as the length of time involved during a volcanic crisis, from the onset of precursor activity to the actual eruption, and the levels of personal stress involved.
The student class is split into smaller groups (c.6-8 students), and each of these groups has to act upon information provided in a series of activity reports for one of four volcanoes; with a large class one volcano may be tackled by a number of groups. The activity reports may be daily, or may skip a couple of weeks depending upon the activity of the volcano. In order to receive the next report the students are required to assign an alert level to the situation and consider whether it is necessary to evacuate any of the local towns/villages. Each volcano differs in the amount of information which is supplied (i.e. not all have a hazard mitigation map, some do not have SO2 emission data, etc.). The examples are all based, loosely, around actual eruptions, but have been disguised so that the students cannot anticipate what may happen. One volcano does not erupt, despite reasonable precursor activity. In order to reproduce the 'stress' levels involved, the students have a limited time in which to make a decision.
The practical lasts for c.1½ hours and has always received a very positive response, with many students commenting specifically that they had not fully appreciated the time-scale involved, or the fact that it is not always possible to have all the information required to make an accurate prediction. The most common 'errors of judgement' which are made include predicting an eruption too early; evacuating local towns/villages too early; and reducing the volcanic alert level too quickly when it appears that nothing is happening.
The full version of this practical is now available as a series of pdf files.