Finding High Ground: Simulating an Evacuation in a Lahar Risk Zone
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Large lahars threaten communities living near volcanoes all over the world. Evacuations are a critical strategy for reducing vulnerability and mitigating a disaster. Hazard perceptions, transportation infrastructure, and transportation mode choice are all important factors in determining the effectiveness of an evacuation. This research explores the effects of population, whether individuals drive or walk, response time, and exit closures on an evacuation in a community threatened by a large lahar originating on Mount Rainier, Washington. An agent-based model employing a co-evolutionary learning algorithm is used to simulate a vehicular evacuation. Clearance times increase when the population is larger and when exits are blocked. Clearance times are reduced when a larger proportion of agents opt out of driving, and as the model learns. Results indicate evacuation times vary greatly due to spatial differences in the transportation network, the initial population distribution, and individual behaviors during the evacuation.