Vila Times

New Zealand scientists went on research expedition to Tanna

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Dr Carol Stewart, of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research in New Zealand was part of a January research expedition to Tanna to collect data on the impacts of ash and gas emissions from Mount Yasur.

NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded expedition was part of the Pacific Risk Tool for Resilience (PARTneR) project, in partnership with NIWA, GNS Science, the National Disaster Management Office of Vanuatu and the Geohazards Division of the Department of Geology, Mines & Water Resources, Vanuatu. The overall aim of the PARTneR project is to extend the use of Riskcape; a multi-hazard impact and risk assessment tool, currently operational in New Zealand, into the Pacific.

The seven-person team conducted 23 interviews with chiefs and authorities in 13 villages located downwind from Mount Yasur. The interviews focused on gaining insights into impacts of ongoing ash and gas emissions on buildings, crops, health, livestock and infrastructure such as solar panels and generators; villagers’ coping capacity; and whether villagers had received any information on reducing the impacts of the volcanic emissions from authorities.

The data, collected over a three day period, will be used to map ashfall impacts. It will also be used to help reduce risks and inform emergency planning and management decisions in Vanuatu.

Those on the field team included Juli Ungaro (NIWA), ShengLin Lin (GNS Science), Carol Stewart (JCDR), Johnny Nimau (NDMO), Peter Korisa (NDMO, Lopanga Yerta (NDMO), and Sandrine Cevaurd (Geo Hazards divison of DGMWR).

Two members of the field team, Juli Ungaro and ShenLin Lin, also spent extra time in Port Vila to run an advanced training workshop on Riskscape for local emergency managers.