#19 Volcanic Panic

10 Points

Be like Rūaumoko (the Māori atua/god of earthquakes and volcanoes) and make – then explode!! – your own volcano.

Read the instructions

Categories:

See also

Find out more about NZ’s volcanoes at Geonet.

What to do

Your mission is:

Build your own volcano then make it erupt using baking soda and vinegar. Check out the notes (above) for the tool list and get going Rūamoko!

1. LIVING ON THE EDGE

In Aotearoa the whenua (land) we live on is at the edge of two giant tectonic plates: the friction between them produces volcanic activity and earthquakes. This mission is all about getting in touch with Rūaumoko's explosive energy (oh, and a bit of chemistry too).

Before you start check out this footage from when Mt Ruapehu let off some steam in 1996. Your volcanic explosion is 'just pretend', because you don't want to get as close as these guys did to the real thing (put your hard hat on and watch from 1min 40sec in)!

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2. BUILD THE BASE

Gather the materials for your volcano out of something natural from outside: sand, dirt, leaves, mud.

Or if you're stuck inside, you could use modeling clay or papier mâché to make the foundations of your replica Rangitoto (Rangitoto was made from Auckland's most recent eruption: yours probably doesn't need to be as big!). 

 

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3. SHAPE IT UP

Get sculpting: volcanoes come in four different shapes: 'cone', (like Mt Taranaki or Ngauruhoe), 'shield' (Mt Cargill down south), 'volcanic field' (an active area producing volcanoes like Mt Eden and Rangitoto in Auckland) and 'caldera' (Lake Taupo is the massive crater of a volcano whose eruption was one of the biggest the world had ever seen). 

Will you go classical cone like Taranaki or volcanic field like Auckland? 

 

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4. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT

Let your imagination loose on the landscape design. Think about volcanic features like craters and vents and what human features might be around: farms, towns, cities (Auckland is built on a volcanic field with dozens of cones, e.g. Mt Eden).

Will your eruption cause a lahar (a volcanic mudslide)? Lahars usually follow a river valley, so see if you can mimic a valley and you can direct the course of nature! 

(Remember to leave a cup-sized hole for your crater/s!) 

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5. CHARGE UP THE CUP

Steal one of mum or dad's least-favourite coffee cups or a disposable cup to put inside the volcano crater – this will be the vent for the eruption.

Put 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of your cup along with 2-4 drops of food colouring and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Congrats – you’re ready to blow!!! 

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6. LET IT BLOW!!!!

Make your volcano erupt by pouring a ¼ cup of vinegar in the cup. Be a good volcanologist and stand back. Fire up the camera on your phone or tablet and get ready to snap your DIY Vesuvius (that's a famous Italian volcano that popped its top in 79AD)!!

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7. UPLOAD THE EVIDENCE

UPLOAD to Wild Eyes the evidence that you were there for the biggest backyard explosion since Tarawera blew its top in 1886!

Pop your volcano and make your wild eyes pop!!

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RUMBLE CHALLENGE

Geonet are the organization that monitor earthquakes in NZ. Can you get your eruption registering on Geonet? Challenge laid!! (And check out volcano cam while you're on the Geonet website to see if your quake registered).

If you're serious about going big: check out the 'inspiration' tab for the world's biggest vinegar and baking soda volcano.

What's happening?

FEELING GASSY?

800px Baking soda and vinegar

– Did you get a reaction?

Our explosion is just pretending to be a volcanic eruption (there’s a whole different chemical reaction happening to what's going under under the earth).

When baking soda (alkaline) and vinegar (acid) mix, they react with each other forming a chemical reaction, one of the things (the ‘product’) that gets made is carbon dioxide gas, which is what creates the bubbly eruption!

BANANA BREAD BAKING BOMB

If you've ever made a cake, you've already experimented with the bubbles that come from this reaction. Most cakes rise because of bubbles in the cake mix. Those bubbles, like the ones in your crater are created by a chemical reaction created when baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and a dry acid (cream of tartar or sodium aluminum sulfate) react.

When liquid is added to a baking recipe, these two ingredients (both found in baking powder) react to form bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. And then your cake (like this banana bread) is awesome!

794px Aunt Ediths Banana Bread Recipe

– Chemical cooking

WORLD CHAMPION SODA VOLCANO

So, the chemical reaction happening in your volcano is only impersonating an actual volcanic explosion, but if you wanna think big, get inspired by these guys!

COKE AND MENTOS MAGIC MIX

For another mega fun way to see a chemical reaction try mixing Diet Coke and Mentos! Check out these YouTube videos  ... and don't do this inside!
1. Go domino
3. Make a bottle rocket (definitely don't do this one inside!!)

- Kate the kōkako

DON'T TOUCH

And while we’re talking about Coke: real volcanoes don't have baking soda and vinegar, they have magma from the earth's core. You can touch baking soda but you wouldn't want to touch actual molten lava. Check out what it does to this Coke can ... scrambled eggs from hell!!

Inspiration

NEW ZEALAND MADE

New Zealand sits on the edge of two tectonic plates, on a join that’s part of what's called the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ (not to be confused with the day after you’ve eaten spicy food…). This location is key to how Aotearoa was formed. It took hundreds of millions of years, but you can find out about it in just a couple of minutes via the magic of video!

UNDER PRESSURE

Planet earth is divided into 15 or so of these massive giant 'tectonic' plates, uneasily sitting next to each other like kids squashed in the back seat of a car on a long trip. 

Check out this Auckland Museum video to see what drives the massive plates to rub against each other. When they let off steam and hot magma (not egg yolk!) out of vents and cracks, that's when we get ’volcanic eruptions’.

 

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– Think of the planet's surface as a big eggshell with cracks in it.

GET CLOSE TO THE FIRE

And if talk of egg shells and a a photo of the earth from outer space with lines on it doesn't really get the message across about magma – the hot stuff New Zealand is sitting on top of – then check out this insane Geoff Mackley video that heads into the crater of Vanuatu's Maram Volcano. Definitely don't try this at home!! (Actually if you can try this at home, you have other issues!)

HOW TO CRATER LAKE

New Zealand’s biggest lake, Lake Taupo, is actually the aftermath of a massive massive super-eruption 25,500 years ago and it sits atop a caldera crater. It last erupted in 232AD (the Taupo eruption), one of the largest eruptions in the last 5,000 years; the resulting ash cloud raced across the ground flattening forests and burying the land in thick ash deposits up to 80 km away!! Luckily there were no people in NZ at the time.

Screen Shot 2016 08 09 at 2.00.31 PM

– Fried moa?

TARAWERA TEMPER TANTRUM

White Terraces Blomfield

– A painting of Te Tarata (aka the White Terraces), by Charles Blomfield

Unluckily there were people who were affected by the last big volcanic eruption in Aotearoa. in 1886 Mt Tarawera blew its lid for six hours in 1886: 120 people died, several villages and the world famous Pink and White Terraces were destroyed.

NZ’s volcanoes still pose a risk today and a monitoring system called GeoNet has been set up to keep an eye on Rūaumoko’s temper.

HOT JOB

Volcanologists, like Auckland University's Jan Lindsay' are scientists who study volcanoes. Watch Jan describing her job and listen to Jan as she talks about the volcanoes that most of Auckland is built on, then check out this video of volcanologists getting close to the core.

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