[L’industrie c’est fou] Scientists catapult rocks to simulate volcanic eruption

Can your home withstand a volcanic eruption? The answer may lie in New Zealand. In the island’s capital, threatened by dormant volcanic activity, researchers are conducting a series of tests to understand the different physical impacts of a volcanic eruption.

Testing the resistance of roofs

To simulate the fallout from a volcano, a research team from the University of Canterburry uses a machine that throws volcanic stones onto a roof. The goal is to reproduce the effect of ballistics during an eruption and to test the resistance of infrastructures. Tons of ashes were also mobilized to best recreate the physical context of the event.

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“A volcanic eruption could create multiple dangers,” explains Nicole Allen, doctoral student at the University of Canterbury. Not only ash rains, but also lava flows, ballistic projectiles, waves of hot ash and gas, shock waves, landslides or even a tsunami. It is therefore important to build reliable impact assessment models for all possible events. “

Useful experience for insurance professionals

These experiments are carried out within the framework of the DEVORA research program (for Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland). Scientists from all over the world make up the research team. The study of the Auckland volcanoes is associated with that of emergency management and insurance. The University of Auckland and GNS Science – a New Zealand research institute – jointly lead the DEVORA program. The team is aware that this gathering of international researchers dedicated to the study of the risks associated with the volcano “is quite unique”.

Auckland Volcanic Field

The city is surrounded by cones and small lakes that are part of Auckland’s potentially active volcanic field. This geography was generated by eruptions smaller than those of the large volcanoes located in the center of the North Island. “Auckland is located on active volcanic terrain with 53 known volcanic centers. It’s very likely that an eruption will take place in the future, we just don’t know where or when, ”says research director Thomas Wilson.

According to him, an inhabitant of Auckland has between 5% and 15% of chances of witnessing a volcanic eruption in his lifetime, “which is quite unlikely in our lifetime. But if that were to happen, the impacts would be so significant that it is worth focusing on planning for potential evacuations, exposure to insurance and resilience of critical infrastructure with our public sector partners ”. The last eruption in the region was at Rangitoto 600 years ago, a date considered recent in the life cycle of volcanoes.


Source: UsineNouvelle – Actualités A la une by www.usinenouvelle.com.

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