2018 Kīlauea Eruption Simulation: A Volcanic Crisis Role-Play Simulation and Training Activity

Andrew R. Greene (Hawaiʻi Pacific University; agreene@hpu.edu)
Molly Cunningham (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; MS Student '22)
Rose Urda (Hawaiʻi Pacific University; BS Student '23)

Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: January 5, 2023


This activity is an accurate role-play simulation of the historic 2018 Kīlauea eruption in Hawaiʻi. The goal of this engaging interactive simulation is for participants to experience a simulated volcanic crisis from a science, emergency management or community-based role, learn to interact and communicate with roles from different agencies, and learn to prepare and respond to a real volcanic crisis. There is pre-simulation Volcanic Crisis Training reading and homework with Role Profiles for background. The three-hour simulation activity includes Instructions, Event Cards and Answer Key, and Event Slides for the Moderator to efficiently run the activity. Materials for the participants include in-depth Event Cards and 20+ pages of visual Resources (maps, diagrams, detailed volcanic crisis response information) for 20 roles in three teams of Science, Emergency Management and Community roles. Event Cards include thought-provoking tasks and discussion questions to initiate interactions and presentations among participants in their roles. This role-play activity is as close as one can get to reenacting the historic 2018 Kīlauea eruption.

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Learning Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goals of this eruption simulation are for participants to:
1) experience a simulated volcanic crisis from a science, emergency management or community-based role (e.g., identify hazards, forecast volcanic activity)
2) learn to interact with roles from different agencies and communicate science and emergency information (e.g., discuss eruption details, present information to other roles, make decisions, and communicate verbally and in writing)
3) learn to prepare and respond to a real volcanic crisis (e.g., allocate resources, designate facilities, establish evacuation routes and centers, and discuss techniques for mitigating volcanic eruptions).

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity includes:
1) identifying hazards, reading and interpreting maps and diagrams, integration of multiple datasets, and forecasting volcanic activity
2) synthesis of information is expressed via communication by discussing eruption details, presenting information, making decisions about resources and facilities, and communicating verbally and in writing.

Context for Use


This role-play volcanic eruption simulation activity is designed for students in high school or college, and can be used to engage and educate community members or professionals for volcanic crisis or disaster response. The activity is ideally-suited in an undergraduate or graduate course in geology, volcanology, disasters or disaster management, or as part of volcanic crisis awareness and disaster management education and training.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This activity does not require significant background knowledge in geology or natural hazards, but some background may be beneficial for participants to engage more fully in the activity. Pre-simulation Volcanic Crisis Training and Support Information and Role Profiles for Hawaiʻi is provided in the activity.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone activity but can be used as the culminating activity in a sequence of exercises on Hawaiian volcanoes and hazards found on this site.

Description and Teaching Materials

Pre-simulation Preparation—Reading and Homework
1) Instructions for Participants Instructions for Participants (Acrobat (PDF) 2.6MB Jan4 23)
2) Pre-simulation Reading (14 pages)- Volcanic Crisis Training and Support Information for Hawaiʻi
Pre-simulation Reading- Volcanic Crisis Training and Support Information for Hawaiʻi (Acrobat (PDF) 4.7MB Jan4 23)
3) Homework on Reading (2 pages of fill-in-the-blank questions) 3_Homework on Pre-simulation Reading (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 28kB Jan4 23) 
   HW Answer Key for Moderator HW Answer Key_Pre-Simulation Reading (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 27kB Jan4 23) 
4) Role Profiles for Participants Role Profiles for Participants (Acrobat (PDF) 197kB Jan4 23)
(~1.5 hrs for participants to individually complete reading and HW before simulation activity)

Eruption Simulation
1) Instructions for Moderator 1_Instructions for Moderator.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 17kB Jan4 23)
2) Event Cards and Answer Key for Moderator (41 pages) 2_Event Cards Moderator Answer Key.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 74kB Jan4 23)
3) Event Cards for Participants (timing, instructions, questions, tasks, prompts for interactions and presentations)
    A) Event Cards for Science Team (20 pages) 3A_Event Cards Science Team.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 37kB Jan4 23)
    B) Event Cards for Emergency Management Team (20 pages) 3B_Event Cards Emergency Management Team.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 38kB Jan4 23)
    C) Event Cards for Community Team (20 pages) 3C_Event Cards Community Team.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 36kB Jan4 23)
4) Resources for Participants (organized maps, diagrams, data and information)
    A) Resources for Science Team (20 pages) 4A_Science Team(S)_Resources-Packet.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 78.7MB Jan4 23)
    B) Resources for Emergency Management Team (15 pages) 4B_Emergency Mgmt Team(E)_Resources-Packet.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 55.1MB Jan4 23)
    C) Resources for Community Team (14 pages) 4C_Community Team(C)_Resources-Packet.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 36.6MB Jan4 23)
5) Event Slides for Moderator 5_Event Slides_Kilauea 2018_simulation.pptx (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 246.2MB Jan4 23)
(60 Slides in Powerpoint of background, photos, videos and animations, and content following the Event Cards for running the simulation; 250 MB file)
(~3 hrs to complete the in-person group simulation activity)

Teaching Notes and Tips

An in-depth set of Instructions for Moderator and Answer Key for Moderator are included with the materials for the simulation.


An assessment activity is available as a Debriefing session within a Community Meeting at the end of the Eruption Simulation.

References and Resources

References.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 22kB Jan4 23)

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