Teaching volcanic hazard management and emergency management concepts through role-play: The science behind the Auckland Volcanic Field Simulation

R.H. Fitzgerald, J. Dohaney, D. Hill, T.M. Wilson, B. Kennedy, J. Lindsay

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Simulation and role-play are useful tools in teaching participants volcano hazard assessment, monitoring and emergency management techniques, while simultaneously improving transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and decision-making. The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) provides an ideal setting for building a realistic volcanic hazard simulation. The AVF provides a rare plausible urban volcanic eruption scenario to teach and test participant preparedness, response and management of volcanic hazards. The AVF is an active monogenetic basaltic field covering 360 km², comprised of over 50 eruptive centres, and is located beneath Auckland, the most populous city in New Zealand. A high level of risk is associated with future activity in Auckland, as an eruption within the city (given its high population density and economic significance) would affect not only Auckland but the entire country. This report outlines a role-play simulation based around an AVF eruption scenario. It includes the science informing the scenario and reviews the design of the team structures and roles. The eruption scenario is based on Exercise Ruaumoko, a national emergency management exercise carried out in 2008 to test national preparedness for a volcanic disaster. The scenario occurs over a 10-week period beginning with typical background activity that progresses into two weeks of increasing precursory activity, culminating in a phreatic eruption in Manukau Harbour. Eruptive activity continues over 32 days, evolving into phreatomagmatic and then magmatic styles in which ~0.06 km³ of magma is erupted. Participants must identify volcanic hazards produced (including ashfall, pyroclastic surges, ballistics and vog), recognise their potential impacts, and attempt to mitigate the impacts to the population. Observations of monogenetic volcanism are scarce as few have occurred in recent history, thus much of the data used to build the eruption scenario is drawn from eruptions of similar composition, size, and style from around the world. We describe the various monitoring datasets (i.e., seismicity, ground deformation, gas, plume heights, visual surveillance) and their sources. Social media injects were included to illustrate the public’s likely reaction to the ongoing event. Monitoring datasets are streamed in ‘near real-time’ over a custom-built web-based interface, condensing several months of volcanic activity into a 4–5 hour running time. The data illustrates changing eruptive conditions, helping to demonstrate a working model of the volcano’s unrest and eruptive phases providing different scenarios (and challenges) for the participants to respond to and mitigate. To ensure realism and to help participants become familiar with credible emergency management and science organisational structures and relationships, the roles and structures in each of the two teams (‘Emergency Management’ and ‘GNS’) were adapted from GNS and Emergency Operations Centre structures. Each rol e is responsible for disseminating information relevant to the role and communicating with their team to assess, respond and mitigate volcanic activity and subsequent hazards. We explain the responsibilities of each role and how the teams are structured in order to facilitate efficient communication.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherGNS Science
Number of pages61
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameGNS Science Report


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