Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Mt Merapi School Visit and the CRES Conference!

So today has been quite an exciting one for geoscience communication...

This morning

The day kicked off with a school visit from Kelly College students (local to Plymouth, UK) who had come into Plymouth University just for the morning to do a volcanic hazard session. This involved the students acting as an expert team trying to deal with the hazards of an impending volcanic eruption as and when activities occurred. Each team had three members; a geologist, information co-ordinator and decision maker who needed to work together to make the best decision to minimise the risks associated with the hazard. All of the teams worked well and effectively communicated via posters and radio broadcasts to the communities residing on the volcano.

This was an enjoyable exercise and a great way to get children interested in geology, and this made me think about volcano warning systems in real scenarios. The basic requirements for an effective warning system are:
- Information has to be easily readable.
- The system has to be user friendly.
- The user must have trust in the system to give accurate information.

All of these points have been covered in the GEOWARN Atlas Information System, the key information of which is shown in this image:

This system works excellently as it can be implemented into any volcano hazard program of organizations dealing with hazard assessment and crisis management, without dependence on expensive software. Further information about the development of this system can be read here:

This afternoon

This afternoon was the CRES (Centre for Research in Earth Sciences) Conference at Plymouth University, where academic staff, students and guest speakers gave short talks about their current research projects. It was fascinating whether you were interested in fossils, climate change, minerals, volcanoes or science communication (or all of them!)

These conferences happen every year and it seems that every year I discover some new aspect of geology which I didn't know about before.

For instance I didn't know that research on characterising mineral surfaces through adsorption may be applied to you and me! For example, if this research identifies definite results, it could eventually lead to the development of research into slow release drugs or long lasting flavours in chewing gum. And this is just one way that geological research could positively effect everyday life.

Most universities, colleges and interest groups hold these conferences and events so if you are interested in attending one, I strongly encourage you to investigate your local organisations. You never know you might discover an interest in something which you didn't even know about!

Happy reading!

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