Throughout the Earth’s history, volcanoes have helped shape the landscape, have altered the climate, and have devastated local environments and societies within their reach. Not surprisingly, these immensely powerful forces of nature have for millennia been the dual source of fascination, myths and legends on the one hand, and destruction and terror on the other, and still humans chose to live in their shadows. This module investigates the relationship between volcanoes, the environment and humans. Drawing on palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and historical data, it examines the local and wider impacts of volcanic eruptions on the environment and climate, and the repercussions for human populations, cultures and societies, in the past and today. This includes considering the role of palaeovolcanism in identifying volcanic hazards, in informing risk assessments and in developing mitigation strategies. The module also contemplates modern perceptions of volcanoes and the threats they pose, including the growing popularity of volcano geotourism in the face of personal danger.
You will gain an understanding of volcanically-driven environmental change in a global context, the ability to evaluate the positive and negative impacts of volcanic activity on human cultures and societies, to describe the hazards associated with different forms of volcanic activity and to illustrate their mitigation with appropriate case studies.
Module Co-ordinator: Dr Gill Plunkett
Note: Some modules may not be offered every year
(Image: Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA – G. Plunkett)