is the focus of this module? The
four volcano modules are problem-based learning experiences that
emphasize different kinds of volcanic hazards and geologic processes.
New High School in Orting
Unrest in Paradise
New Eruption in the Cascades
sizes of hot spot volcanic eruptions
may choose to engage in one, all, or any combination of the four
volcano modules. It may be best if groups of students undertake
different volcano modules in order to facilitate inter-team comparing/contrasting
different types of volcanoes. When using modules 2, 3, and 4, be
aware that the uplift and seismic data are hypothetical and not
based on actual observations.
areas of the 7-12 curriculum are addressed by the modules?
The modules should provide learning opportunities related to
earth science, geology, social studies, history and risk assessment
is the compelling problem that students will face in each module?
A New High School
in Orting The students' company, a geological engineering firm
called Volcanoes-R-Us, has been asked to decide whether to build
a new high school in the shadow of a restless volcanic giant, Mt.
Volcanic Unrest in
Paradise! Kilauea in Hawaii shows signs of activity. What are
the prospects for the nearby population?
A New Eruption in
the Cascades? Mt. Hood is starting to act like Mt. St. Helens
did in 1980, but Mt. Hood is just 40 miles from the metropalitan
area. How might an eruption impact this populated area?
The "Big One"
in Yellowstone National Park. America's largest volcano is stirring.
Are we facing an eruption as devastating as a nuclear attack?
concepts and issues will students encounter as they work through
are three volcano types. Mt. Rainier represents a "strato,"
or composite volcano. The other two types are the "shield"
volcano, such as Kilauea in Hawaii, and the "cinder cone"
volcano such as Izalco in El Salvador.
While it may be feasible to safeguard populations, social, political,
cultural, economic factors have to be considered. Planners have
to weigh the impact of restrictive measures in and about the volcano.
For example, should building codes restrict new developments? Such
measures are sure to hurt vested interests such as those of landowners
or communities dependent on the tourist trade.
Teachers who are interested in global warming and/or the Greenhouse
Effect may direct students' attentions toward these areas. Volcanoes
are known to emit millions of tons of ash containing high concentrations
of sulfur dioxide. Volcanic eruptions are thought to have changed
the earth's climate for years after major eruptions. Examples include
Tambora in 1815 and Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.
Information about how prepared the State of Washington is for a
Mt. Rainier disaster might take quite a bit of research. Inferences
might be made, however, from investigating how well the Mt. St.
Helens eruption was handled by federal, state, and local officials.
A similar event on Mt. Rainier, especially with the increased likelihood
of significant flooding, would put disaster management to the test.
Students should mention transportation, utilities, food, water,
and medical facilities.
Mt. Rainier poses
the following hazards:
- Volcanic eruptions:
the eruption of lava flows and tephra (particulate materials such
- Edifice failure: the
gravitational collapse of a portion of the volcano.
- Glacier outburst floods:
the sudden release of melt-water from glaciers and snowpack or
from glacier-dammed lakes on the edifice.
- Lahars, or debris
flows, and debris avalanches: gravitational movement of water-saturated
volcanic debris down the steep slopes of the volcano and into
Checklist--have you thought of everything?
a Working Problem Statement
To help students create a Working Problem Statement (WPS), you may
want to pose some introductory questions such as the following:
New High School in
scenario examines risk assessment of mud flows and glacial water
outbursts associated with glacier-capped volcanoes. The module describes
a real, ongoing situation. Students might want to directly contact
students at the present Orting High School or city officials. To
make their evaluation, students should consider statistics of mud
flow and water outwash frequency and size, maps showing previous
mud flows, the speeds of flows as indicators of warning times, geology
and topography of Mt. Rainier, the origins of previous mud flows,
the location of Orting relative to Mt. Rainier, the relation of
mud flows to eruptions, and comparisons with Mount St. Helens mud
Build or do not build on the proposed site, build on a nearby site,
or evacuate the area.
a) maps/images showing Mt Rainier, outflow channels, and Orting,
b) tables/maps of various mud/water outflows, and c) data on risk
factors for common insurable disasters such as the house burning
Volcanic Unrest in
Paradise! This scenario emphasizes analysis of a small, effusive
eruption that will require only limited action. Students might want
to consider the nature of different kinds of volcanoes and eruptions,
the nature of Hawaiian eruptions and why they are different from
Cascade eruptions, effects of different sizes of eruptions, etc.
This scenario is a simulation of a small eruption typical of the
current cycle of activity at Kilauea that began in the early 1980s.
Real, up-to-date information on lava flow and seismic activity on
Hawaii can be found at the Hawaii
Volcano Newsletter. Please note that the Hawaii Volcano Observatory
has been in operation since the 1920s, and the scientists there
are very competent at predicting eruptions and issuing warnings.
In reality, they would not need an outside consulting firm to analyze
Evacuating potentially threatened communities, closing affected
areas to the public, or doing nothing but taking some great pictures
of an eruption.
A map of the big island of Hawaii, seismic and uplift
maps and data, including set of seismic cross-sections extending
down several kilometers.
A New Eruption in
the Cascades? In this scenario students examine the possible
effects of a major volcanic eruption. A Krakatoa-size event in the
American Cascades would be a major disaster. The initial blast could
literally destroy Portland and several towns along the Columbia
river. The river itself would probably be dammed by giant rock avalanches
and lava flows. Ash would probably bury the Richland area, and cover
huge sections of the West, stopping all ground transport, possibly
for weeks. There could be significant global climate effects over
the following years. Such an eruption is a definite--though remote--possibility
in the Cascades. Crater Lake in southern Oregon was formed by an
eruption of this scale only about 6900 years ago.
Students could recommend evacuation of as many people as possible
for many miles around. The data supplied will be similar to that
supplied for the Hawaii scenario, but the inferred size of the eruption
will be hundreds of times greater.
Simulated seismic and uplift data (surface and cross-section)
and locator maps of the area. These materials are included in the
The "Big One"
in Yellowstone National Park This scenario simulates a cycle
of eruptive activity at Yellowstone National Park. The indications
implied by the simulated earthquakes and terrain uplift will be
ambiguous, greater than seen in recorded history (the last hundred
years or so), but much less than would be expected for a classic
Yellowstone-scale eruption. To evaluate the significance, students
will need to compare the volume of the current uplift (about 4 km3)
with the volumes of earlier Yellowstone eruptions and other volcanic
The scenario may take the students in several different directions.
A classic Yellowstone-scale eruption is so large that it would have
major world-wide climatic effects: the central third of the U.S.
would cease to exist; massive amounts of dust would circle the earth
for years. Humanity has no direct experience with this size of an
event, so extrapolation of the effects of known eruptions would
be necessary. Such an eruption could lead to significant floral
and faunal extinctions, so students' research might lead to discussion
of the dinosaurs' extinction. The volcanic activity of the Yellowstone
hotspot has been quasi-periodic over the last several million years,
but the range of variability is so large as to preclude definite
predictions. An element of uncertainty plays a large part in the
work and conclusions of real scientists, but it is seldom dealt
with in school activities. This scenario will require dealing with
Simulated seismic and uplift data; maps of the area and a detailed
map of the "downstream" calderas to supplement available
materials on the Internet. These materials are included in the module.