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31/08/2012 - Greg Smith and David Cavell (Solomon Islands)

posted 4 Sep 2012, 03:04 by Joel Gill

It’s been almost two weeks since our trip to Savo, and I’m sure some of you were wondering when our next post would be. Well, we’ve had a busy, but productive two weeks, and having shipped off our samples back to Leicester yesterday, it felt time to post what we’ve been doing and some of the exciting developments we’ve had.

After recovering a bit from our trip to Savo (good as it was, crossing the Iron Bottom Sound in rough seas leaves you worse for wear) we headed back into the office to look over what we had collected – Logs, Samples, Photos and set to correlating these with our next few days in the office. Not exactly thrilling work but just as well as the weather here has become pretty abysmal! Several of the last few days have seen us in the office with torrential rain lashing down outside. Good thing we had some logs to correlate… This of course is something that will go on once we return to
Leicester, along with further analysis (Cross sectioning and XRF) of the samples we have sent back. Here’s hoping they get there in one piece!

When the weather did hold up we also visited the Solomon’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). We met with the organisations director, Loti Yates, who was more than happy to supply us with the current information about Savo. This included schemes to help mitigate the effects of any future eruption on the island such as the setting up of regional committees to marshal evacuation plans as well as past government/international initiatives such as Exercise: Long Reach. However, no current integrated plan of the effects of an eruption and measures to mitigate them has been drawn up by the NDMO, and Loti hopes that the data we produce (along with the great work of others at Leicester) could form part of a new integrated plan to be developed in the next few years.

Further to this, we may have opportunity to utilise topographic data provided  by Claudia and the Government Lands Division, along with data we have collected to help simulate flow down the Rembokola Valley. This has been suggested by Leicester’s own Dr Rebecca Williams and although in a very early stage, and requiring a full DEM (Digital Elevation Model) of Savo to help make possible, this does sound very exciting and promising. We have chased down two copies of such a DEM, one held in the records of the Lands Division, and one by a former member of Claudia’s research team. We hope to obtain the Lands copy by Monday. Though this is extra work for us, the hope of feeding in new scientific data to a full disaster management plan for Savo is a big impetus. Hopefully the data for this, particularly the DEM will materialise. This is something we had not expected to come out of this trip, but marks a welcome addition to the work we are doing out here. Thanks Becky!

Returning to our other work here, Greg and I have been looking at the infrastructure around Honiara’s main districts to ascertain resilience to other natural hazards and the potential impact an eruption on Savo could have to this area. Speaking to Loti, the major fear is of a tsunami being triggered by any eruption of the nearby island. Having frequented Honiara over the last five weeks it seems that the city may be woefully unprepared for such an eventuality, but we will be discussing with the NDMO the likelihood of such an event and what can be done over the coming days, and feeding our findings back to him. More on that next week.

This final week has flown by, and the data Lands Division and the NDMO have supplied us will hopefully augment our own data and go a long way to helping improve plans for Savo and the Honiara area. With today being our last Friday in the office, it’s good to be leaving with a sense that the work we’ve been doing out here may go on to be part of something bigger. Here’s hoping we get that.