Comment on the 2018 Update to the USGS National Volcanic Threat Assessment




Mackenzie, Kerry
Muschalik, Madeline
Broesche, Bethany

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As part of the Geology of National Parks course at the University of Texas at Austin, students used data available as citizen scientists to test the hypothesis put forth by the US Geological Survey (USGS) that the Kīlauea in Hawaii was the #1 most hazardous volcano in the US. Background: The US Geological Survey indicates that all volcanoes, when erupting, pose a risk to people and infrastructure but stresses that the risks are not the same from one volcano to the next. In an extensive study of several volcanoes, the USGS compiled a list of hazards associated with US volcanoes, including some of those in our national parks. Based on a compilation of facts, the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii emerged as the greatest threat. This course project aimed to challenge (or support) the hypothesis by allowing students to select a volcano they thought could pose more of a threat compared to Kīlauea. For this project, the students had the option to critically challenge the ranking of Kīlauea as the #1 threat and argue for a different volcano to take its place. They could also elaborate on the ranking of Kīlauea as the #1 threat but provide additional information to push the argument further or provide additional data that contributes more information that the USGS might not have considered. The students were able to include their own experience in the issues discussed in the USGS paper and comment on the applicability of the issues raised in the USGS to other settings or other cultures.


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