City of Volcanoes

Just before entering the simulation room at Auckland museum I experienced a brief moment of doubt. Is it wise for someone who has experienced a 6.0 earthquake just last spring followed by hundreds of aftershocks in the following weeks incuding two 5 point something events to attend a volcano simulation session? Hell, yes. I’m currently stading on a volcano crater surrounderd by a volcanic field, there’s an active volcano 3 hundred kilometers south and a couple of weeks ago I toured the red zone of a city hit by a 6.5 quake. I can manage a stupid simulation.

I have to say that in general I was mildly distressed by all those volcanoes in Auckland. While in the observation deck of the skytower, a grinning jumper dangling on the other side the glass, dozens of tiny white vessels (vssls) sailing in the bay, I caught myself thinking I hope I can make it back to the ground before any earthquake occours.

Definitely an unhealthy approach, definitely not my approach.

Anyway, in this simulation you are standing in your nice kiwi house, that is to say a rectangular box with huge windows and no insulation whatsoever (who cares about insulation as long as you have an electric duvet), and what you see from the panoramic window of your living room is a nice green island (either recreational or conservational) which is of course a volcano because every stupid hill around Auckland is of course a volcano. Now, there’s a small quake that shakes you a little on your big couch, and then the volcano starts erupting in front of you. The tv is turned on with the news showing people running away Auckland in their cars, clogging all the roads and cursing the traffic, and at this point everyone is laughing because that’s what happens in Auckland everyday, excluding maybe Sundays around six in the morning. A couple of minutes later the lava from the volcano reaches your window and you’re dead (did). At this point the simulation is over and a voice reminds you to pick up the leaflet about what to do in a volcano emergency upon leaving the room. Well, if the volcano outside your panoramic window erupts you’re dead (did), with a leaflet in your hand.

I preferred the earthquake simulator at the Science Museum in London, the one about Kobe. On the other hand Auckland Museum has a very nice section about BA Flight 9 flying through volcano ash. As a kid I used to read about famous incidents in the history of aviation in my dad’s aviation magazines and that was my favourite one, with the perfect cabin address.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress