04/12/2013 06:54 GMT | Updated 01/02/2014 05:59 GMT

It's Top Trumps... but of the Explosive Variety!

2013-12-03-Volcanoes_box_TT.jpg We have all sat in the park, in the playground, on holiday, with our prized cards held close to our chest. "Top speed, 2200 mph (Mach 3.2+)", this was a winning card, my favourite the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird. Top Trumps was, and is, a household favourite with the young from all ages up. Picking your wits against your opponent by choosing the winning category that describes one of the features on your card. Planes, trains and automobiles.....and now, Volcanoes! Yes, Volcano Top Trumps has just been released, and I have just gone out and bought 10 just for good measure. I open my pack, the rest a mixture of presents and prizes at talks, and I flick through to make sure my favourite is there. Stromboli, in glorious erupting colours, yes it's in. Will it be a winning card, maybe in some categories but at least it's there. Some great categories they are too; deadliness, unpredictability, wow factor, to name but a few. My daughter (me really) is going to love this, as will many thousands of kids around the world, and they may learn a little along the way.

This is no ordinary Top trumps game, there is a strong message behind it. The game was put together by volcanologists at the universities of East Anglia, Plymouth and Oxford. They have been working together on the interdisciplinary project called 'STREVA' (Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas). This project looks to strengthen the local population's resilience to natural hazards in earthquake-prone & volcanic regions. Whether we like it or not, millions of people live under the shadow of volcanoes, yet the level of understanding amongst these vulnerable populations to the hazards of volcanoes and earthquakes is often lacking. All profits that are made from the sale of 'Volcano Top Trumps' will go towards this initiative by helping people affected by volcanic activity and supporting future scientific research on volcanoes and hazards.

The pack of cards is nicely put together with no shortage of cool volcanic eruption pictures. There is a useful information card to explain the detail behind the categories and where we find volcanoes around the world. Deal them out then 'BANG' and your off, exploring the cards for the volcanoes with the clear winning categories, seeing where they are on Earth, and reading about some of their most famous eruptions. The real volcano classics are there as you would expect (Vesuvius, Etna, Mount St Helens), but there many others you may be less familiar with. What a great way to learn a little about hot rocks, light up the eyes of a young budding scientist, and help support some great research along the way....Volcano Top Trumps, I salute you!!

Dougal is currently developing new book ideas on volcanoes, has a new series of Fierce Earth (CBBC - spring), and took part in a BBC2/Discovery expedition down the Grand Canyon due out early next year. STREVA is supported by the research councils NERC and ESRC.