Volcanoes in Action - A Planetary Perspective

Ref: C3125309

Many of our planet's volcanoes are currently not active but have long histories of disastrous eruptions. What makes a volcano erupt and how can we predict future events? Major clues are found in a volcano's lavas and ashes which we will be exploring through hand specimens at every session. The knowledge we have gained has been now transferred to our near neighbours in space from the Moon to the eight planets in our Solar System where volcanoes similar to the Earth's have been identified as well as some truly alien processes amongst the outermost planets and their moons.

Course aim

To provide an introduction to how geologists study the world's active volcanoes and compare these processes with volcanoes in the Solar System where there are similarities and also intriguing differences.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Understand the key processes underlying all volcanic eruptions
  • Appreciate that different magmas give rise to varying degrees of volcanic risk for the local population
  • Understand that the conventional silicate magmas of the Earth occur elsewhere in the solar system but that other types of volcanism are now known.
  • Identify the key products of volcanic activity using hand specimens drawn from mainly Icelandic and Italian volcanoes

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be useful to bring a notepad/pen as well as reading glass or magnifying glass (x10) for close study of the rock and mineral specimens provided by the tutor.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • There are several useful textbooks, examples of which will be available to look at during class, including: Introducing Volcanology by Jerram, Volcanoes - Encounters through the Ages by Pyle, and Volcanoes in Human History by de Boer & Sanders

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • There are local geological and astronomical societies - Teme Valley Geological Society based in West Worcestershire or the Woolhope Club (Geology Section) based in Hereford plus the Herefordshire Astronomical Society.

Download full Course information sheet

Volcanoes in Action - A Planetary Perspective


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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