VEPP: Using maps to assess volcanic geologic hazards

Brian Scheidt, Mineral Area College, Kim West, University of Saskatchewan, Lyn Gualtieri, Seattle University
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This is an exercise that is in development and has not yet been fully tested in the classroom. Please check back regularly for updates and changes.

Students will use a combination of topographic and geologic maps in interpret and analyze natural hazards of the Pu'uO'o eruption.

Brief three-line description of the activity or assignment and its strengths:

Students will use a topographic map to plot the direction of lava flow associated with eruptive activity of Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii. They will assess the natural hazards associated with Kilauea's eruptive and gas activity in order to make predictions and assess the dangers to people and properties in the region.

Full length description:

You are a HVO scientist who will be assessing the natural hazards associated with Kilauea's activity including the dangers to people and properties in the region. There are three parts to this lab assignment: a pre-lab, lab, and news report. The pre-lab should be completed before attending the lab. In the pre-lab you will be asked to look at the style of volcanism associated with Pu'u O'o cone, a cinder-and-spatter cone located in the east rift zone.

In the lab you will be provided with 3 topographic and 1 geologic map to assess the natural hazards associated with Kilauea's activity including the dangers to people and properties in the region. You will be responsible for creating your own set of maps and materials from the pre-lab and lab exercises.

The third part of the assignment involves writing an accompanying news report to communicate the results of your work to the public. While you are encouraged to discuss all parts of the assignment with your peers, you must hand in your own work.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Briefly describe the content/concepts goalsfor this activity (e.g., those involving pure vs. simple shear, deformation mechanisms, kinematic analysis, accurate description of samples By the end of this lab, students will be able to:

· Discuss the style of volcanism, viscosity, and chemical composition of the lava flows at Pu'u O'o cone and Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii

· Explain why it might be important to understand and monitor the direction of lava flows near an active volcano

· Identify natural hazards and zones near the volcano

· Apply previous topographic knowledge and skills

Briefly describe the higher order thinking skills goalsfor this activity (e.g., those involving analysis of data, formulation of hypotheses, synthesis of ideas, critical evaluation of competing models, development of computer or analog models):

- Plot and predict the direction of lava flow and a plume associated with eruptive activity

· Assess the dangers to people and properties in the region

· Synthesize the results of your work in a news report designed to update the public

Briefly describe any other skills goalsfor this activity (e.g., those involving writing, operating analytical equipment, searching the WWW, oral presentation, working in groups):

- Write a news report to synthesis the results of your work in the lab

Context for Use

This activity is intended for use with both majors and non-majors.
Intended for undergraduate lower division students
Typical Number of Students: 15-30
Typical Number Classes Where Exercise is Used:
The activity will conducted in lab

What is the type of activity (a problem set, classroom activity, lab activity, project, field activity, and/or a writing activity)?

Lab and writing activity

What is the class type (small intro lecture, large intro lecture, or UD/grad course; disasters, hazards, field course, or intro geology; with or without computers; community college)?

Both small and large classes, computer is not required by students

Briefly describe the type(s) and level(s) of course in which this activity or assignment could be used (e.g., undergraduate required course in structural geology, introductory physical geology course for non-majors, graduate level seminar on geochemistry):

All introductory classes (Earth Science, Physical Geology, Natural Hazards)

Briefly describe or list the skills and concepts that students must have mastered before beginning the activity:

How to read a topographic and geologic map.

Students should have already been introduced to the key terms relevant to the lab in the lecture on volcanoes preceding the activity.

Briefly describe how the activity is situated in your course (e.g., as a culminating project, as a stand-alone exercise, as part of a sequence of exercises):

As a stand-alone lab or writing exercise.

Description and Teaching Materials

Topographic and geologic maps need to be printed (they are included below)

Colored pencils



(Materials: Lab for Using maps to assess volcanic hazards (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 183kB Jul30 10))

(Materials: Pre-lab for Using maps to assess volcanic hazards (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 14kB Jul30 10))

Overview topo map

Topo map 1 of 3

Topo map 2 of 3

Topo map 3 of 3

Geology map

Teaching Notes and Tips

Accessing the VEPP Web site ( requires a password, which can be obtained by sending an email with your name, affiliation, and intended use of the site to mpoland "at"

Please describe any helpful examples of this activity, as well as any potential variations on this theme:

Use VEPP website to access maps of earlier flows instead of current lava flow map to show relative dating.

Have students calculate flow area or volume using Google Earth

Include a discussion about what actually happened at Kilauea using photographs, webcam images, movies from the VEPP website

What tips might you offer to other educators planning to use this activity?

Use color maps if possible

Change terminology in pre-lab or lab to fit your individual course

Pre-lab can be combined into lab


Describe briefly how you determine whether students have met the goals of this assignment or activity.

By grading of laboratory. Additionally, students can compare the their calculated maps to actual flow maps.

References and Resources

Please list any supporting references or URLs for this activity:

Using maps to assess volcanic geologic hazards --Discussion  

This post was edited by Jacob Cohen on Jun, 2017
This web site may be useful for you

You can use this site as part of the pre-lab activity... students can combine gas and lava viscosity to make different types of volcanic eruption on line


Share edittextuser=3775 post_id=13136 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=3840

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