Good examples of hurricanes, volcanoes, landslides...?

I should have finished designing the new version of my disasters class. I've been thinking about it forever. But then I was trying to get a paper written, and then I went to a conference, and then there were senior thesis presentations and end-of-semester grading and a six-year-old's birthday, and, well...

Yes, I am frantically trying to get a syllabus ready for class on Monday.

I've got three more days (though they include a discussion with my soon-to-graduate thesis student, graduation, and a birthday party, so it can't be non-stop syllabus work). That means that, although I should be panicking, I'm still thinking about "what cool stuff can we do" rather than "what will I put in this slot in my schedule." And at the moment, I'm thinking of ways that I can make good use of my computer classroom.

For instance, I'm thinking of introducing volcanoes entirely backwards.

I'm going to start with a little lecture burst on basic volcanic hazards (like lava, ash, pyroclastic flows, and volcanic mudflows... that is, unless the volcano fans convince me that I've left out something crucial), and then give each person in the class a volcano to look up (on Google Earth and/or the Global Volcanism Program site), and then use the examples of volcanoes to talk about their characteristics and behavior in more detail.

If I'm going to do that, I need a list of about 24 volcanoes that would make good examples for class discussions. I'd like a mix of tectonic settings, lava compositions, current activity, eruptive styles, parts of the world, etc. I could just steal the last 24 volcanoes discussed on Eruptions, but with three days left before my class starts, I figured I could tap the geoblogosphere for suggestions that might not have been obvious to me.

Here's a list that I came up with on a brainstorm:

Santiaguito (for Tuff Cookie!)
St Helens

And, well, I could poach from the Global Volcanism Program and geobloggers all night, but I'm wondering if there are some great examples that I'm going to forget in my hurry. What's your favorite volcano?

I'm also looking for examples of devastating tropical cyclones (hurricanes, typhoons), especially those that have affected countries other than the US. So far, I'm planning to have a long discussion about Hurricane Katrina, and I'm thinking of sending the class off to look for information about last year's Cyclone Nargis and 1998's Hurricane Mitch. I'm missing the Pacific, though, and I would like to have examples from the Philippines or Taiwan or Japan to compare and contrast with the other examples.

I probably won't start working on the landslides/debris flows part of my syllabus until tomorrow, but I'll probably want to do some kind of landslide scavenger hunt, too. So if you've got a favorite landslide example (especially one that looks interesting on Google Earth), I'd love to hear.

(For anyone who teaches, I would be happy to share any of the details of the exercises I'm doing with you. I've also got a ton of old exercises that I'm abandoning because I like to make more work for myself, but which weren't really that bad and which I'm willing to share, too.)


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Favorite volcanos? Paracuitin (not particularly a disaster, except on a rather local scale, but it hooked me on volcanoes as a kid) and Taal (intensely scenic, and a disaster just waiting to happen).

Philippines would be a good example of how human activity can intensify the disasterousness of an event (typhoon plus illegal clear-cut logging makes for a real mess).

Chaitén, for sure - Ron Schott beat me to that one.
GrÃmsvötn (jökulhlaups!)
Nyiragongo - fast-moving lavas, lots of people crowded around
Ol Doinyo Lengai - weird carbonate volcano
Kick 'em Jenny - submarine volcano with brilliant name

For the cyclones outside the USA, try get some Aussies to speak. I'm on the wrong side of the Tasman to be reliable on things Aussie, but they've had the odd cyclone ;-) Also try looking at the Pacific Islands. I'm not good at details as I'm not a geographer...

By Heraclides (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink

24 interesting landslides with plenty of material available are:
1. Vaiont (sometimes spelt Vajont), Italy
2. Highland Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3. Holbeck Hall, Scarborough, UK
4. Threadbow, Australia
5. Guinsaugon (St Bernard), Leyte, Philippines
6. Ventnor, Isle of Wight, UK
7. Hattian (sometimes called Hattian Bala), Kashmir, Pakistan
8. Po Shan Road, Hong Kong
9. Taihape, New Zealand
10. Casita, Nicaragua
11. Slumgullion, USA
12. Sechillien, France
13. Mt St Helen's flank collapse, USA
14. Frank, Canada
15. Kolka/Karmadon, Russian Caucasus
16. Aberfan, UK
17. Tangjiashan, China
18. Randa, Switzerland
19. Alesund, Norway
20. Storegga, North Sea (submarine landslide)
21. Lituya Bay, Alaska
22. Macchu-Picchu, Peru
23. Saidmarreh, Iran
24. Usoi (Sarez), Tajikistan

In terms of tropical cyclones, my knowledge is less strong, but I would suggest (with the main country of impact):
Hurricane Mitch
Typhoon Herb (Taiwan)
Typhoon Mindulle (Taiwan)
Typhoon Chanchu (Philippines)
Hong Kong typhoon of 1937

Hope that is helpful. Best wishes,

Dave Petley
Durham University, UK

I'd think you'd be remiss if you didn't discuss Yellowstone when it comes to volcanos.

I'd add a couple of landslides to the list above, first, the Hegben Lake slide of 1959(?) and second, the Gros Ventre Slide of Wyoming. But then I'm prejudiced, I grew up in geology/geomophology being taught about these slides. Wasn't there a more recent landslide in Yellowstone in 2004 or so? Speaking of landslides, Wyoming has some interesting mapping of landslide hazzards in the state:

LOL..... then there is the Hart Mtn Thrust of northern Wyoming, which has been suggested to have been emplaced on a surface lubed with bear grease.

By Lynn David (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink

A few more climate-important volcanoes:
El Chichon

Non-US Tropical (or sort-of tropical) storms (unfortunately I can't recall the names, but locations and approximate times):
The Brazilian Hurricane (~5 years ago?) -- first hurricane south of the equator in the Atlantic

Bangladesh's tropical storms in the 90's, 100k's killed (storm surge and flooding)

I'm blanking on Japan's major typhoons of the last decade. A couple had winds approaching 200 mph. The JMA (Japanese Meteorological Agency) should have info.

I'll still mention another US storm -- Andrew. It was probably as well-forecast as will ever be possible. The models showed correct track and intensity consistently from 5 days ahead of landfall. It's an even better one than Katrina, then, for looking at response to disaster information. Katrina had only, iirc, 60 hours lead time.

My three favorites are Soufriere Hills (Montserrat), Heimaey, and Surtsey (the latter two in Iceland). Soufriere and Heimaey both buried relatively large towns under feet of ash, which is pretty dramatic. And let's face it, Surtsey is just COOL--not often you get to see lava erupting out of the ocean! (Plus it's a great example of primary succession, if that's something you want to get into.)

I don't know of any "good" hurricanes/typhoons of the top of my head, but this site gives tracks and info about a lot of historical ones:

It's Paricutin for me.

You need some MORs in there if you're trying to be thorough, IMO. If you only want volcanoes with lots of footage of actual eruptions, you could go with an Icelandic one instead of something underwater. But there are at least photos and videos of MOR settings, even if people don't tend to catch eruptions on video!

Other ideas:
-Chaiten, I agree - talk about great pictures to show a class!
-Something else Andean, maybe in Ecuador, like Guagua Pichincha or Tungurahua
-I like some Central American volcanoes - Masaya, Cerro Negro, Fuego, Arenal
-I agree with Nyiragongo, and/or Nyamiragura - divergent setting, weird magma, huge human impact, lake CO2 risk - great teaching subject
-I also agree with the recommendation of Yellowstone. And there is both real and AWESOME FAKE footage!
-If you're doing Kilauea, why not compare with another Hawaiian volcano?
-Mt. Pelee
-Nevado del Ruiz (if you want to cover some disasters)
-Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai had that spectacular recent footage

uhhh I'll think of more later, I'm sure.

Thanks for Santiaguito! Your students will have fun with that - it's actually a really odd situation, for a volcano, since the active dome could almost be considered a small volcano itself. And I think you've got the hazards down all right - maybe include volcanic debris avalanches if you're going to talk about St. Helens.

I might add Tungurahua (Ecuador) for lahar hazards, and maybe Arenal in Costa Rica, since it's very active and erupts a variety of volcanic products (lava flows, PC flows, etc).

If you're willing to go into the no-longer-actively-erupting category, the Alban Hills (Colli Albani) complex is really neat, since it's a mafic caldera, stratovolcano and maar volcano system (with prehistoric lahars), and it's right next to Rome.

I'm a flood basalt kind of guy personally: Deccan traps, Columbia Plateau etc.

As far as landslides, I don't know if they'd be appropriate, but the prehistoric landslide at a place called Ozette in Washington state had big archaeological consequences, and more recently, a landslide (small) on the Salmon River in Idaho created a huge rapid creatively named "Slide rapid" that makes the Lower Canyon nearly impassable at high flows. Which makes me think of Crystal rapid in the Grand Canyon which was made much more dangerous by a blow out flood (not technically a landslide) in the 60s that has claimed a couple of lives.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

We're going to be talking about Iceland volcanoes (reading McPhee), and I'm planning on discussing Chaiten in detail at the end. But maybe it would be good to include them in the list at the beginning of the volcano discussion, too. I guess I won't be looking for them to figure out the geology of the volcanoes on their own, so maybe familiarity would help.

With the new ocean floor images in Google Earth, would it be possible to look at mid-ocean ridge volcanoes (other than Iceland) in more detail? The mid-ocean ridge volcanoes don't tend to have catchy names, do they? What would be a good keyword for Googling for the eruption footage? (Again, I want send the students on a Google scavenger hunt, rather than have them sit back and watch while I show them lots of volcano pictures. I'm experimenting with embracing the internet, with all its flaws.)

I just googled "mid ocean ridge volcanoes" and found this site from NOAA's Ocean Explorer web site and this site from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, so I guess maybe the general term would work. I'd still like each student to have a specific example in mind during the discussion of processes, however.

It may sound kind of silly, but the Man in the Mountain in New Hampshire might be an interesting landslide, particularly because there was such an attempt to keep it up there.

By ABradford (not verified) on 01 May 2009 #permalink

No mention of Erebus? I'm surprised.

There's also the mud volcano in Sidoarjo caused by a gas & oil- drilling project that would make for an interesting case study.

LL, Chris S: the course is an interdisciplinary gen ed course on how humans deal with natural disasters, so I'm trying to use examples that are likely to affect people. (If a volcano erupts on Io and nobody is there to breathe the atmosphere, is it a disaster?) I'll include undersea mid-ocean ridge volcanoes, because the tectonic setting is important (and they won't understand Iceland without knowing about mid-ocean ridges), but I figure I can leave out Antarctica, even though it's cool.

This is a good thread.

I've been meaning to do a post on the Storegga submarine landslide (~8 ka I think) ... if you could only show one example from underwater in a hazards class, that would be a good one ... ooh wait! I've also been wanting to write a post about the 1929 Grand Banks event ... actually that might be the best candidate ...

I know it takes you right back into the U.S., but I'd argue for adding the Long Island Express of 1938 to your hurricane list. I found it was useful to have a well-documented example of a hurricane causing severe damage in a familiar area above the latitudes that general students often think of as "containing" this sort of event.

By Parhelion (not verified) on 01 May 2009 #permalink

Krakatoa! My favourite since I was a kid. Though I do think the carbonate volcano mentioned previously is pretty awesome; National Geographic did an article on Oldoinyo Langai a few years back so there are some excellent photos available.

By Nancy McKeown (not verified) on 01 May 2009 #permalink

Grimsvotn/Laki, Iceland
Ruapehu, NZ

For landslides, how about the ones on Dominica that were written up in Eos recently. Your students might like that they were discovered in Google Earth. Dave Petley summarized the article here.

I was going to mention Oldoinyo Lengai. You've a nice example of a Cambrian Carbonatite up the highway towards Gunnison, the Powderhorn Complex; and, not too far away, the McClure Mountain Complex near Canon City. Both are chock full of interesting rock type and mineral assemblages. Might be too much for lower level classes, but when I learned that there were carbonate magmas, I thought that was very cool.

By oblate sphereoid (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

Sorry I am a little late to the party ;-) I defintitely think Yellowstone should be on the volcano list, and not just because I live nearby... The volcanic hazards are pretty big scale.
When I designed my landslide activity for a bunch of high school students, the GoogleEarth community has a huge list of landslide .kmz files and descriptions. Besides using that as a resource, I also had the students identify the huge volcanic landslides off of Hawaii using GeoMapAps because is had a slope profile tool where the could draw a line across the topography/bathymetry and see the profile - and they could see the landslide scarps and rubble piles. Then we went onland in GoogleEarth and identified landslide hazards around Honolulu since housing is so dense. Hope that helps!