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The costs of volcano monitoring: funding the Alaska Volcano Observatory (also, Auckland’s cones need more cash) 16 February 2010

Posted by admin in Auckland, New Zealand, volcanoes.
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Volcano monitoring is a vital service, but who pays? In Alaska budget for the Alaska Volcano Observatory is the focus of current debate. The AVO – which, surely, resoundingly proved its value to everyone during the Redoubt eruption of 2009 – has seen its funding fall dramatically with the loss of those unreliable short-term things Americans call ‘earmarks’:

Congress in recent years has provided annual earmarks through the Federal Aviation Administration for the observatory, which is cited as a key contributor to aviation safety in Alaska. But those earmarks have dried up, and total funding for the observatory has fallen from $8 million per year to $5 million, prompting the state Department of Natural Resources to propose a $300,000 contribution this year to help.

As a result it’s been suggested that airlines and freight companies could pay a levy towards the costs of running AVO, the argument presumably being that these business sectors benefit directly from the monitoring and warning services provided by the observatory. [UPDATE: see Dr Erik Klemetti’s remarks on this at Eruptions.]

Recently we saw the Russian volcano monitoring network KVERT hit the buffers when the money ran out (although a temporary fix has now been put in place): it would be deeply unfortunate, to say the least, if the AVO’s vital monitoring system on the other side of the Bering Strait were to encounter similar difficulties.

Meanwhile, in not unrelated news from New Zealand: getting the necessary cash together to look after Auckland’s volcanic cones properly is proving a problem. Local people want ‘good footpaths, good stormwater protection and a clean, green experience on the cones’, but councillors have refused to reinstate a long-term volcanic protection budget worth NZ$8 million, leaving the cones with a ‘pitiful and downright disrespectful’ NZ$457,000 to live on.

The Volcanism Blog

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New Zealand: disaster management software aims to save lives 12 January 2010

Posted by admin in natural hazards, New Zealand.
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Yasir Javed, a doctoral student in the application of computer technology to disaster management at Massey University in New Zealand, was in the city of Abbottabad in his homeland of Pakistan when the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake hit, killing thousands. His current research at Massey is inspired by his experience of that disaster and its aftermath, when communication systems collapsed and thousands of people were left unable to discover whether missing relatives were alive or dead.

Javed worked in the relief effort, setting up a computer database of earthquake victims admitted to Abbottabad’s hospitals, helping survivors to trace missing family members. Now transplanted to New Zealand, he is carrying out admirable research on an integrated information management system for emergency services to use following natural disasters:

Yasir Javed’s research involves the design, implementation and evaluation of an internet-based package called Situation Aware Volcanic Eruption Reasoner (SAVER) to help emergency operations have a clear understanding of the disaster and the status of their resources in dealing with it. The package is designed to provide a common platform, giving information to emergency services about the full picture of the disaster and status of emergency resources. Mr Javed began the project after an emergency exercise last year based on the occurrence of a volcanic eruption in Auckland revealed current emergency services do not have an integrated information management system.

The initial focus on volcanic eruptions reflects the fact that Javed is based at the Albany campus of Massey University near Auckland. After his experiences in the Kashmir earthquake, he says, ‘I realised I wanted to work with technology in these disaster scenarios to save lives. ‘New Zealand is quite disaster-prone and it seemed the ideal place to do this kind of research’.

News
Evacuating Auckland after an eruption – Massey University press release, 6 January 2010
Auckland eruption evacuation software developed – 3 News, 6 January 2010
Software tackles Auckland evacuation – Stuff.co.nz, 6 January 2010
Logging on to beat volcanic eruptionNew Zealand Herald, 7 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Auckland – summary information for the Auckland volcanic field (0401-02=)

The Volcanism Blog

New deep seismic recorder will improve Auckland volcano readiness 11 May 2008

Posted by admin in Auckland, natural hazards, New Zealand, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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GNS Science in New Zealand is improving its seismic network around the city of Auckland with the installation of the first of a network of deep seismic recorders in a 250m-deep disused borehole at Riverhead, about 20km north-west of the city of Auckland. At the moment a seismic network of five surface instruments is dedicated to picking up signs of volcanic unrest around the city.

[GeoNet Volcano Network Coordinator Craig Miller] said while the earthquake hazard in Auckland is not high by New Zealand standards, the focus of the recording instruments in Auckland was on small earthquakes that might precede a volcanic eruption. ‘By getting away from human ground noise, a borehole recorder will enable better data to be collected that can be used to give timely warning of a possible future volcanic eruption in Auckland.’

The new deep instrument, shielded from surface noise and more sensitive to small tremors, brings the network to six, and GNS Science plans to install more deep instruments in boreholes around Auckland in the near future.

For all our New Zealand coverage: New Zealand << The Volcanism Blog

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Auckland – summary information for the Auckland volcanic field (0401-02=)

News
New recorder boosts earthquake, volcano warningsNZ Herald, 11 May 2008
Borehole instrument boosts earthquake monitoring in Auckland – GNS Science press release, 9 May 2008

The Volcanism Blog