Lahar Risk Assessment

Authored by Declan De Paor, Steve Wild, Mladen Dordevic, and Arman Frasier, Old Dominion University, based on an original activity created by Declan De Paor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2005/6.
Old Dominion University, Physics
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: May 11, 2012


Students act as first responders assessing Lahar risks associated with eruptions. Teacher sets an alert placemark on the Google Earth web browser plug-in and gives students X minutes to decide whether to evacuate a down-slope town. Students collaborate by text messages.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Students learn to analyze a risk map, read the terrain slope, and collaborate in decision-making.

Methods of Geoscience

Slope analysis, Superposition, Map Interpretation

Context for Use

This activity was first designed for a Geology for Civil Engineers course but also worked well in freshman Natural Disasters and could be easily adapted to many other settings. Students and teachers need only to be able to use Google Earth and a web browser.

Description and Teaching Materials

Lahar Risk Assessment Activity: (inactive)

Click the 'sign in' link in the upper right corner and login with username 'guest' and a blank password.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Teacher password gives access to features not seen by students. Teacher passwords will be available at the conference.


This activity proved extremely popular with students based on in-class discussion and evaluations. Students love the fast pace and slightly chaotic process of decision making in a first-responder, roll-playing setting.

References and Resources

Lahar Risk Assessment Activity: (inactive)