Case Study 2: Impacts of 79 AD Vesuvius Eruption

Here are the resources describing the impacts from the Vesuvius Volcano disaster in 79 AD..







My favorite article is my first article- actually all of the article were interesting, but I like this one the most because it’s more of journal type, proper study, and it hits on the impacts of Pompeii. (It’s only four pages and it an easy, interesting read.)http://vulcan.fis.uniroma3.it/lavori/episodes.pdf

This one describes the event, and highlights the post eruption phases Vesuvius went through. This helps explain the layers you see at Pompeii, and helps you understand how Pompeii and the people were preserved so well for this length of time. The article breaks it down into the regions, and for me this gave me a better understanding of what I experienced as I explored Pompeii back in January.

This photo you see here is one I took where you can see the layers.

Case Study 2, week 3

Case study 2, week three assignment

Due March 30, 2018

Mt. Vesivius

My favorite article is the BBC article, “The Unexpected Catastrophe.”  It is longer than the rest, but well written and easy to read.  I think it’s as accurate as possible for an event that occured almost 2000 years ago.  During my research I’ve found some conflicting information.  Example would that Vesivuis was inactive for a long period of time prior to 79AD, vs it was very active.  Also that the city of Pompeii was in decline prior to the eruption, vs it was in its heyday.  I’ll have to keep digging, but I think the events of the volcano are well known, just the details seem to be confused.






Case Study 2 Week 3





My favorite resource is also a case study of the Armero Tragedy. This resource is useful primarily because of the organized and obvious facts it presents. A lot of the information that I have learned in my various research so far on this tragedy parallels the details given in the case study. Not only that, but there is additional information given that I did not previously know. Ultimately, this resource presents useful and new facts in a “to the point” and efficient manner.

Case Study 2, Week 3 Human Impacts

Live Science, Planet Earth, Mount St. Helens Eruption: Facts & Information, https://www.livescience.com/27553-mount-st-helens-eruption.html

NASA, Earth Observatory, Devastation and Recovery at Mount St. Helens, Lindsey, Rebecca, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/sthelens.php

Oregon State University, Volcano World, What Were the Effects on People When Mount St. Helens Erupted, http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/what-were-effects-people-when-mt-st-helens-erupted

The Atlantic, The Eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/05/the-eruption-of-mount-st-helens-in-1980/393557/

USA Today, ‘I’m going to stay right here.’ Lives Lost in Mount St. Helens Eruption, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/05/17/mount-st-helens-people-stayed/27311467/

USGS, Impact and Aftermath, https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/msh/impact.html

The USA Today article has insightful stories of some of the people that died during the eruption, such as Harry Truman who lived on Spirit Lake and refused to leave.  Mr. Truman and his lodge was buried in the avalanche.  But the article that gave the best information on the human impact was the last article that is listed from the USGS website.  It puts into perspective the massiveness of the devastation that occurred from the landslide, lateral blast, and the lahars.  Spirit Lake, where Harry Truman lived, and all of the buildings in the area were completely buried from the debris avalanche and lateral blast.  There was extensive damage to land and civil works, more than 200 homes and cabins were destroyed and many more were damaged leaving many families homeless.

Thousands of acres of prime forest, totaling more than 4 billion board feet of salable timber, were destroyed mostly from being blown down by the lateral blast.  During the timber-salvage operations, 600 truckloads of timber were transported from the area each day.   Fifteen miles of railways, 57 bridges and 185 miles of highways were extensively damaged or destroyed along with recreational sites and trails.

Nearly seven thousand big game animals such as deer, elk and bear died during the eruption along with all the birds and small animals in the area.  Fish hatcheries were destroyed killing approximately twelve million Chinook and Coho salmon fingerlings and 40,000 young salmon.

Fifty-seven people died, mostly from asphyxiation from inhaling the hot ash.  Loggers, campers, fisherman, and families on outings were included in those numbers as well as the USGS Volcanologist David Johnston.  Over three billion tons of ash was spread across the surrounding areas, covering streets, buildings, interfering with communication systems, airports, and spreading across 11 states.

A couple of sites that I looked at had some conflicting information with numbers, but I feel confident that the numbers and information coming from the USGS are the most accurate especially since the Cascades Volcano Observatory is part of the USGS Volcano Hazards Program.  As I looked at many different resources, it seems I always gravitate back to the USGS website to see if the information is the same.  They also have great photos documenting the unbelievable devastation.

Volcano/ Vesuvius: Case Study 2 Week 2

Monitoring of Vesusius

The area is home to a research center and it is monitored and studied at the Osservatorio Vesuviano (i.e. The Vesuvius Observatory) The observatory opened in March of 1845, where It was built on the southern border of the Somma caldera located in between two deep valleys bordering the hill. These valleys have now been filled by the lava flows from the eruptions of 1850, 1855, 1861, 1868, 1872, 1906, 1929, and 1944.

Vesuvius is considered one of the worlds most hazardous and closely watched volcano. The National Group for Vulcanology has encouraged research in the geological structure of the volcano, and has improved its monitoring since 1983.

Sensors monitor Vesuvius, and some are visible as you walk up the trail to visit the crater. These sensors transmit signals around the clock to Vesuvius Observatory. “Data transmitted each month by the European satellite Envisat on ground movements complement and update the observatory’s information.” The observatory has two experts on site around the clock to analyze the data.

Public safety authorities have developed a current disaster evacuation plan using the 1631 eruption as a model. There are three zones: red, yellow, and blue.

The plan would call for the red zone to evacuate everything within a 15 km radius due to imminent danger of pyroclastic flows.

The yellow area is not as dangerous as the red, but would be subjected to falling ash and lapilli. It is only expected that 10 percent of this area would be damaged, but it is not possible to wait until an eruption to determine this, and necessary for those in this area to evacuate.

The blue zone corresponds to the “valley of Nola,” and be subjected to floods and the fallout of ash and lapilli.

The warning is issued during the “Pre-alert Phase.” In this phase, “the operational control passes to the national level, is declared a state of emergency, appoint a Deputy Commissioner, called the Operating Committee of Civil Protection. The police and rescuers are positioned on the territory according to established plans”

According to the government, “The plan is constantly updated to reflect advances in scientific knowledge, but also the continuous change of the urban and the population density of one of the most populated areas of the world. The main objective of the Plan is to safeguard the lives of people living on its slopes.”

The plan was created in 1991, and has not been used.

Case Study 2 Week 2

Something I learned from this week was that there actually was an evacuation issued for the surrounding towns of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Previously, I though the Colombian government was notified of the risk of eruption and mudslides, and they simply just brushed it under the rug. Actually, the government did contact Red Cross to notify an evacuation, but due to stormlike conditions mixed with the heavy ashfall from the eruptions, there was a power outage in that particular area. Regardless, the Red Cross could’ve sent units out there to spread the word once they realized their messages were not being received. This would’ve gave the residents at least three hours to get to higher ground before the series of lahars decimated Armero.

Case Study 2, Week 2 Eruption!

As I played Eruption, I found it really difficult to know when to evacuate.  It seemed I either evacuated too early and then loss of life from disease and illness became the bigger issue along with the astronomical cost or I waited too long and in an instant 10,000 or more people had died from the volcanic eruption.  I’m sure that it is the same in real life with trying to make credible decisions as to when it is the right time to evacuate since a restless volcano can show activity for days, weeks, or even months before an eruption might occur. 

I found it very frustrating trying to play the game.  I would get to a point and the game would just stop.  I had to play several times just to get through a whole 25 days of the game.  Just when I thought I had evacuated at just the right time, it would stop working.  No matter what I did, people always died.  It was very disheartening, just as I’m sure it can be in trying to figure out the best solution for real life hazards. 

Case Study 2, Week 2 Monitoring

There are several different instruments used to monitor a volcano which includes seismometers, GPS, tiltmeters, gas monitoring instruments, thermal imaging and cameras.  Seismometers detect the seismic activity of the volcanic processes.  Seismometers monitor the seismic waves that propagate through the earth when an earthquake occurs and the depths at which the epicenter occurs under the volcano.  Seismometers can detect the movement of magma as it starts to move upward in a volcano which creates seismic vibrations and earthquakes beneath the volcano.  Some seismic stations were installed near Mount St. Helens in the 1970’s but due to the unrest of the volcano beginning in March of 1980, the first complete set of seismic monitoring stations was installed.  These seismic stations send data to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) and the data is used to monitor volcanic activity by working closely with the Cascades Volcano Observatory and the University of Washington. The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network monitors, records and catalogs earthquakes and seismicity associated with explosive eruptions and dome growth.  This data is used to forecast eruptions, detect explosive activity, and determine eruption dynamics.  These seismic stations also detect earthquakes that are not due to volcanic processes but are due to tectonic movement along the Mount St. Helens seismic Zone (SHZ).  

Flooding Hazards Game / Landslides Ideas

My second case study is focused on the Armero Tragedy – the deadliest lahar in recorded history. Seeing as the volcano mitigation game focuses primarily on the actual eruptive aspect of a volcano and not the landslide/lahar aspect, I decided it was best to play around with the flood game as well as come up with a few ideas for a landslide game.

The most useful thing about the flooding game was the little bits of information and advice they would periodically bestow on you as you progressed through the game. The more the game advised me, the more comfortable I was with making decisions regarding the safety of the town.

Something that got annoying to me was the time it took to preform upgrades on buildings. Realistically, if a town had to put up new buildings in preparation for a known destructive event, one would think that the proper “upgrades” would be included with the building originally. It would make the experience more worthwhile if there was an option that included the appropriate upgrades upon each time you built something, for more time could be focused on protecting and developing other areas.

In my eyes, a fun and engaging landslide mitigation game would follow nearly the exact format as the various mitigation games: as time went on, the towns risk of a landslide would increase ever so slightly. One would be assigned a budget and a number of people in need of protection and/or displacement due to their location in relation to an area likely to give way or act as a channel for a landslide. The budget would be used to build new homes for people to move out of landslide prone areas, as well as things like walls to catch sliding debris or chain-link meshes encasing slopes or anchors driven into rock faces. As one would progress through the game, they would be given hints that might help them in their future decision making upon their timing and strategy as far as when and where to conduct certain upgrades. Eventually, the landslide would ensue and the player would a receive a report card of sorts including information on casualty rate and number of homes destroyed.

Case Study 2, Week 1 Mount St. Helens

My second case study is on the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption on May 18, 1980, in southwestern Washington.  A magnitude 5.1 earthquake triggered the largest landslide in history which then triggered the eruption which killed 57 people.

Mount St. Helens is only one of many volcanoes located in the Cascade Volcanic Arc in the Cascade Mountain Range of the Pacific Northwest which extends from northern California to British Columbia, Canada.  Mount St. Helens is the youngest of the volcanoes in this region with its formation beginning approximately 275,000 years ago and it is the most active.   It is a stratovolcano located on the convergent plate boundary of the Juan de Fuca plate and the North American plate along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It is located about 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon.

The most interesting thing I have learned is how far a blast area can encompass when a lateral blast such as this one occurs.  It is amazing how many tons of ash can be expelled by a volcano and how far that ash can travel up into the atmosphere and across the land with the winds.  To see pictures of the volcano before and after the eruption helps you to see how much of the mountain was actually gone and how vastly the topography changed.  I am also amazed that more people did not die during this eruption since it is located in a populated area.