I just returned from my second year of participation in the Specialization certificate for the assessment and management of geological and climate related risk (CERG-C) course in Geneva (Switzerland) and Vulcano Island (Sicily, Italy). It was stimulating, interesting, and beautiful. The course takes a "...multidisciplinary approach to the assessment and management of risk from natural hazards, merging ideas from disciplines such as the physical and social sciences, engineering, and economics" (website). The course has 8 modules and there were about 25 students from around the world participating. The course is lead by Professor Costanza Bonnadonna. Several other instructors participate and getting to know them has been quite nice. Amanda Clarke and I have joined the last few years
The last two years I have helped by providing a series of lectures in Geneva on topography and then participated in the field exercise on Vulcano Island (Sicily, Italy). I argue that it is a fundamental geophysical dataset for any hazard and risk assessment as it drives and resists processes and hazards. After all, potential energy = mass x gravity x relative height. Topography fits in the realm of Geodesy which is the science of accurately measuring and understanding three fundamental properties of the Earth: its geometric shape, its orientation in space, and its gravity field—as well as the changes of these properties with time. We know that surface processes act to change elevation through erosion and deposition while tectonic processes depress or elevate the surface directly. And, topography and geomorphology (study of landforms and surface processes) helps to link between timescales of seismology and crustal deformation (1-10 yr) and geology and tectonics (1-10 Myr)
At Vulcano, the students have the opportunity to put into practice their hazard and risk knowledge. The program starts with a field trip and lectures on the various volcanic hazards (unrest and degassing, single vulcanian, persistant vulcanian, subplinian from the main edifice ("La Fossa") and strombolian and lava flow eruptions from the adjacent "Vulcanello). Then the students work through vulnerability, warning messages, and even have a crisis exercise. They stay busy from 8 am to 10 pm. The studnet have to present almost every night a poster on what they analyzed for that day, with the assembled instructors as audience and evaluators. There are also evening lectures including a review of Italian earthquakes with extended lecture on L'Aquila by me and a very nice review of Italian Civil Protection by one of its representatives. And, one of the highlights is a volcano crisis "play" at the local elementary school in which the students have a script and take various roles as community members, media, safety staff, government officials, scientists, etc. to go throught a possible volcanic crisis at Vulcano. It was very cute and a great demosntration of how to engage communities to understand the hazards they face and what to do.
In order to demonstrate acquisition of topography as well as collect some for some of the research activities ongoing at Vulcano by the team, I worked with an INGV colleague Il maestro Dr. Fabio Pisciotta to collect photos from drones for structure from motion reconstructions. He has a lot of experience droning at Vulcano and was a great teacher. We teamed up with his Phantom 3 and our Phantom 4 Pro and collected more than 6000 images over the edifice. Stay tuned for the models...