GETSI Teaching Materials >Monitoring Volcanoes and Communicating Risks > Student Materials
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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For the Instructor

This material supports the Monitoring Volcanoes and Communicating Risks GETSI Module. If you would like your students to have access to this material, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing GETSI teaching materials.

Welcome Students!

Volcanoes are both fearful and fascinating. They serve as an integral part of the planet and it's climate, yet jeopardize the safety of communities surrounding them. How can we best predict when future volcanic eruptions will occur and communicate the possible risks to local communities? In this module, you will examine real geodetic data for three different styles of volcanoes at Hawai'i, Mount St. Helens and Yellowstone in order to better forecast for volcanic eruptions and assess risks for surrounding communities based on different volcanic properties. You will also examine data from all stages of USGS alert levels from Normal to Warning. 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. By the end of the module you will be able to:
  1. Make interpretations and predictions from analyzing GPS, Tilt, LiDAR, InSAR, and Seismic data from real world volcanoes.
  2. Graph and map your interpretations and calculate mean recurrence intervals for eruptions.
  3. Asses the risk for communities surrounding volcanoes and how to communicate these risks to non-scientists.

Unit 1: Monitoring Volcanic Activity at Mount St. Helens

How can data from an imminent volcanic eruption be used to forecast the risk to surrounding communities? In this unit, you will examine geodetic data (GPS and lidar) as well as seismic data to assess volcanic activity and determine the USGS alert level for the volcano. In addition, you will use a hazard map for the Mount St. Helens area to determine which towns are at risk if a large eruption occurs. As an optional activity, you can also learn how to develop a way to communicate possible risks to local communities.

Introductory/Pre- Class Work:

To prepare to learn in class about dome type eruptions during the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, watch the following videos and follow instructions to generate a list of eruption pre-cursors. Be prepared to share these ideas in class.

In class materials:

Unit 2: Kilauea Hawai'i - Monday Morning Meeting at the USGS Hawai'i Volcano Observatory

You may have heard about recent volcanic eruptions taking place in Hawaii and the effects that they have had on the surrounding communities. How do the Volcanologists in Hawaii predict the timing and hazards of these eruptions? In this unit, you will analyze one of the four volcano monitoring data sets (GPS, Tilt, Seismic and InSAR) and then move to mixed groups to work acting as USGS scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. You group will share your data set, learn from your teammates on how to interpret the other data sets, and develop a forecast for an eruption of Pu'u O'o in the Kilauea volcano.

Unit 3: Yellowstone is active, but is it erupting?

You may have heard of Yellowstone as being a super volcano that could erupt "at any moment". Its eruption could have devastating effects on large areas of the US and Canada, but what is the likelihood of such an eruption occurring? In this unit, you will explore seismic data for the last several decades and calculate mean recurrence intervals of seismic swarm events in Yellowstone. You will also use Additional geodetic data (GPS, InSAR) to investigate whether or not seismic swarm events reflect volcanic activity. Finally, you will explain the source and causes of earthquake swarms in the context of responding to non-scientists' concerns that swarms indicate an impending eruption.

Pre-class work: To prepare for class, you will wan to read abotu Mean Recurrence Intervals (MRI) for volcanic eruptions. please read and answer questions in the following:

In class materials:

Unit 4: Comparing risks at different volcanoes

How are we able to asses risk level of certain volcanoes to their surrounding communities? In this unit, you will assess the risks specific to a series of volcanoes with varying properties based on the Risk equation: Risk = Hazard x Value x Vulnerability. Your final product will be a table that helps one to identify the volcano at greatest risk, taking into consideration the volcanic hazards, population characteristics and infrastructural vulnerabilities for the communities surrounding each volcano.

  • Pre-Reading on Eruption Types (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 6.2MB Jan22 20) and complete work using the Student Answer Sheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 193kB Jul3 19) (or on the reading depending on your instructors preferences).
  • In Class Handouts (different groups will receive different readings)
    • Fuego handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 13.3MB Jan23 20)
    • Rinjani handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 11.5MB Jan23 20)
    • Mauna Loa handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 8MB Jan23 20)
    • Student Worksheet for all groups (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 311kB Jan24 20)

     

This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »