PhD Title:Resilience and vulnerability in communities around Mt Taranaki
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. James White
Mt Taranaki is the highest stratovolcano in New Zealand and at 2518 metres above sea level, is the second highest mountain in the North Island. Eruptions have not occurred at regular intervals, though there have been moderate to major eruptions spaced on average 330 years apart. As the last major eruption was in 1755 AD another significant eruption is likely to take place during this century.
My project intends to examine the vulnerability and resilience of some of the 80,000 residents in the shadow of the volcano in order to facilitate and enhance community and government preparedness and aid in devising plans to reduce vulnerability, enhance resilience and decrease the chance of disaster.
The first phase of this project has been to distribute 1,800 surveys to residents in Inglewood, Stratford, Opunake and rural areas in between these towns. The surveys examine residents' awareness and perceptions of volcanic hazards from Mt Taranaki, as well as issues of their everyday lives. Part of the analysis of the surveys will examine if there is any correlation between where residents live within the different zones of the Taranaki Volcanic Hazard Map and their attitudes towards volcanic hazard awareness and preparedness.
The second phase in this project is to obtain data from high school students in these towns on their awareness of volcanic hazards from Mt Taranaki, as they are more likely to be the future citizens coping with an eruption. The internet based survey will be tied in with the curriculum on volcanic hazards for 3rd, 5th and 7th form students.
Other research ideas for my project may include modelling of debris avalanches and lahars from Mt Taranaki using high resolution digital terrain models, and examination of community vulnerability to loss of lifelines. Results from the modelling will be used to enhance the present hazard map and to better understand how these volcanic hazards will impact the surveyed communities.