Volcano survival isn’t a game. Except when it is

La Soufrière, the highest peak in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is an active volcano. It last erupted in 1979. This, broadly speaking, is good news. When in doubt, it is preferable that a volcano has not recently erupted. But there’s a catch. As Tom Hart writes in Geographical: “The long gaps between eruptions meant that local knowledge about the volcano had dwindled.”

“Knowledge about the volcano had dwindled.” 

Lara Mani is attempting to stem this erosion of knowledge by creating a videogame about La Soufrière. Mani, a geo-communications PhD student at Plymouth University, is working on a project entitled “3D Visualisation of Volcanic Hazards.” “The game,” Mani writes, “will incorporate traditional methods of hazard communication (e.g. hazard maps) and will be an interactive, informative and fun tool which can be used to educate highly vulnerable communities about volcanic risk.”

The problem Mani is seeking to address is hardly unique to La Soufrière. Volcanoes can erupt infrequently, leading to even larger gaps in knowledge than in Saint Vincent. Indeed, Mani writes, “The importance of volcanic hazards education was reinforced with the death of over 30 people in Indonesia from volcanic eruptions at Mt. Sinabung & Mt. Kelud which had remained dormant for hundreds of years.” Thus, her volcano game could serve as a model for volcano awareness.

Geographical’s Tom Hart reports that the first trial of Mani’s game will be held during the upcoming St. Vincent Volcano Awareness Week. 

H/T Geographical Cover image via NASA, other images via Lara Mani/Plymouth University