Volcanoes garner fascination and fear with students and the general population and thus are a natural engagement point. In this module, students examine real volcano monitoring data for three different styles of volcanoes -- Hawai'i (shield volcano), Mount St. Helens (stratovolcano) and Yellowstone (caldera)--in order to better forecast volcanic eruptions and assess risks for surrounding communities. Data used include GPS, tiltmeters, seismic, and lidar. Students examining the data and propose what USGS alert levels (from Normal to Warning) they would assign to the volcano. The impact of volcanic activity on surrounding communities is also considered along with ways that societal variables play a role in assessing risk for a given region.
Webinar about teaching this module: Teaching About Volcanoes with Monitoring Data and Communicating Risk
Strengths of the Module
- Variety of learning methods Learning approaches include gallery walk, jigsaw, think-pair-share, and other small group work to foster an actively engaged student population. All materials can be modified to be used in a range of classroom sizes from small to large.
- Multiple data types Over the course of the module student use a variety of different types of data to determine hazard levels of volcanoes -- GPS, tilt, lidar, InSAR, seismic. They experience how the complexity of volcanic behavior requires a suite of monitoring data in order to have an effective warning system.
- Develop quantitative skillsThese activities involve developing quantitative analysis skills through authentic volcano monitoring and societal data (all units), graph and map interpretations (all units), and mean recurrence intervals (Units 3 & 4).
- Real world applicationsThere are elements of real-world and societal applications in which students are asked to consider how infrastructure would be impacted (Units 1 & 4), reactions to volcanic activity through the lens of Native populations (Unit 2), how to communicate risk to non-scientists (Units 3 & 4), and how poverty and corruption may impact risk to a region (Unit 4).
- Terminology in contextOverall students learn about different volcano types and volcano terminology through experience with the societal impacts, rather than just memorizing facts. For instance, they learn the three different volcano types--stratovolcano (Unit 1), shield (Unit 2), and caldera-style (Unit 3)--through the lens of their respective eruptive products and hazards. This module also includes units with background readings and videos for students.
The content of these activities includes elements of
Great fit for introductory- and majors-level classes in:
- Introductory Geology courses (for majors and non-majors)
- Volcanology (for non-majors and for majors)
- Geologic and Natural Hazards courses (lower division and upper division)
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Overview of the Monitoring Volcanoes and Communicating Risks Module
- Unit 1: Monitoring Volcanic Activity at Mount St. Helens
- Unit 2: Kilauea Hawai'i - Monday Morning Meeting at the USGS Hawai'i Volcano Observatory
- Unit 3: Yellowstone is active, but will it erupt?
- Unit 4: Comparing risks at different volcanoes
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
- Join the Community