Teaching Materials by IMGEO ( This site may be offline. ) - Starting Point page by R.E. Teed (SERC).
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This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.


Eruption! is a volcanic crisis simulation model that showcases a series of villages that surround an active volcano that is part of the Interactive Models for Geological Education Online (IMGEO) series. The goal of the exercise is to preserve as many people and as much property as possible in spite of the threat from the volcano. Students role-play as villagers, the governor, volcanologists, or the press. Guides for teaching assistants and students, and the rules of the simulation are available on the site. Three different versions are downloadable, for different hardware and classroom situations (e.g. one computer per student, one computer and multiple students, and a networked environment). The activities in each are modified slightly to reflect the level of computer access for the student.

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Learning Goals

This simulation is designed to teach students how people deal with volcanic hazards emphasizing:
  • Different kinds of warnings of impending eruptions.
  • Cooperation between different people in the decision process.
  • The cost of evacuating and of losing a settlement.

Context for Use

Eruption! can be used as a stand-alone lesson or as part of a more involved unit on volcanoes. The exercise takes about an hour. The students will need to read the student guide carefully beforehand and the instructor should allow sometime before the exercise to discuss the exercise. Debriefing is handled in a questionnaire at the end of a student guide, that the student will need time to complete, probably outside of class.

Description and Teaching Materials

Eruption! (more info) can be downloaded for free, but requires a Macintosh or Power Mac (preferably networked) for each student group. There are also teacher and student guides as pdf files.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Teachers should make sure that the students have read and understood their guide and their roles before they start the simulation. They may also want to develop grading criteria (such as a rubric) for the questionnaire and give that to the students.


There is a written assignment (questionnaire from the last page of the student guide) to conclude the exercise.

References and Resources

Other approaches to role-playing that involve volcanoes are: