Mon, 9 Jul 2012
A volcano expert from the University of East Anglia is to feature in this week’s Volcano Live series on BBC2.
Dr Jenni Barclay, of UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, will be seen carrying out experiments with comedian Ed Byrne to replicate volcanic processes.
Using a variety of household items, the pair will demonstrate different sized volcanic explosions, how ash and bombs are scattered, and the effect of very large eruption on the surrounding earth.
“Recording the sequences was an excellent experience,” said Dr Barclay. “Explaining things briefly and in an understandable way without simplifying them to the point of being wrong is quite a knack. However, it was made easier by having Ed Byrne asking the right questions.
“Our first explosion experiment went wrong! The bottle we were using exploded sideways and ripped not one but two rubbish bins apart. This ended up with a race to the nearest DIY store to buy more bins. But it was worth it in the end – the slow motion footage of the explosions was incredible to see.”
Presented by Kate Humble and Iain Stewart, Volcano Live is aired on BBC2 at 8pm this Monday to Thursday. Dr Barclay's experiments are due to be shown in Thursday's episode.
Last week saw the launch of a major new study exploring better ways to forecast and cope with future volcanic eruptions. Led by UEA, the £3 million project will focus on six volcanoes in Latin America and the Caribbean. Volcanologists, social scientists, and international development experts will work closely with the communities directly at risk to improve preparations for and responses to dynamic volcanic activity.
Dr Barclay, who will lead the four-year project, said: “In this exciting and novel project we will be collaborating with those responsible for local monitoring of volcanoes, with the disaster managers and policy makers in charge of planning for and responding to eruptions, and with ordinary people living and working in the shadow of active volcanoes. The local communities have a vast wealth of knowledge and this will be a real two-way learning process."
The researchers will use the latest volcano monitoring techniques and data – including from the new Sentinel satellites due to be launched next year by the European Space Agency - to improve forecasts of future eruptions at six volcanoes: Soufrière Hills (Montserrat); Galeras (Columbia); Tungurahua (Ecuador); Soufrière St Vincent (St Vincent); Cerro Machin (Colombia), and Cotopaxi (Ecuador).
Picture: Dr Jenni Barclay walking in volcanic mud from the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat