Volcanic eruptions are awe inspiring phenomena that can have both positive and negative impacts on humans. Among the positive impacts, fertile farmlands are created through mixing of mineral-rich volcanic ash into the soil years after an eruption. The devastation that can result from volcanic eruptions is well known – in 79 AD an explosive eruption of Vesuvius volcano in Italy (then Rome) killed several thousand people, some of whom were buried alive in Pompeii. Alaska is home to approximately 52 active volcanoes, and while our populations are remote, our frequently active volcanoes (average 1-3 eruptions per year) can cause issues for infrastructure (Redoubt volcano and the Drift River Oil Terminal), aviation (Redoubt 1989 KLM jet near disaster), and people affected by ash fall downwind. Get started learning about volcanoes by watching the videos below, and completing the reading and assignments.

Sakurajima Japan – People have to live with frequent eruptions


Science Topics and Resources for Volcano Hazards:

Week 1 – Basic science  follow the steps below to learn the basics. Week 1 assignments are given in the Case Study 1 page

1) Read all topics within the following sections (located on the left side bar) from the How Volcanoes Work website

  • Eruption Dynamics
  • Volcanic Landforms
  • Eruption Products
  • Eruption Types

2) Complete the quizzes from each section by clicking on the Test Yourself menu on the left sidebar. Upload screenshots of your quiz results to Blackboard as described in the Case Study Week 1 assignments.


Week 2 – Hazards and monitoring  follow the steps below to learn the basics. Week 2 assignments are given in the Case Study 1 page

1) First, get acquainted with  Alaska’s many active volcanoes, and the work of the Alaska Volcano Observatory!

2) Read the following sections on volcano hazards on the USGS Volcano Hazards Program website, found along the left sidebar

Watch short example videos of some of the hazards:

  • Ash and aviation

  •  Lahars (Japan)

  • Pyroclastic flows (Merapi, Indonesia)

  • Lava dome collapse and pyroclastic flow (Japan)

  • Landslides

  • Lava flows

3) Read all sections on volcano monitoring in the US from the USGS Volcano Hazards Program website

Watch the USGS video on volcano monitoring:

Watch the videos below (to accompany the reading)

Seismic Monitoring:

Deformation, tilt, GPS monitoring:

Gas monitoring:

3) Play the Eruption! game, created by Dartmouth College:



Week 3  and Case Study Report – Assignment is given on the Case Study 1 and 2 pages. For Case Study 2, you are required to provide one additional paragraph comparing and contrasting your two case studies disasters.


GEOS 380