Be Prepared: highlights from applied volcanology

This blog post highlights a selection of recent publications from Journal of Applied Volcanology revealing the work of volcanologists around the world advancing research and managing the risks and hazards of livelihoods in proximity to volcanic activity.
Be Prepared: highlights from applied volcanology

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Journal of Applied Volcanology is an international journal with a focus on applied research relating to volcanism and particularly its societal impacts. Characterising volcanic impacts and associated risk relies on not only quantifying physical threat but also understanding social and physical vulnerability and resilience. The broad aim of volcanologists in this domain is to increase public resilience to volcanic risk via research that reduces both human fatalities and volcanic impacts on livelihoods, infrastructure, and the economy.

Community preparedness for volcanic hazards at Mount Rainier, USA

Lahars - violent mudflow caused by excess sediment - pose a significant risk to communities, particularly those living near snow-capped volcanoes. Flows of mud and debris, typically but not necessarily triggered by volcanic activity, can have huge impacts, such as those seen at Nevado Del Ruiz, Colombia, in 1985 which led to the loss of over 23,000 lives and destroyed an entire town. Key findings from this paper include: women have stronger intentions to prepare but see themselves as less prepared than men; those who neither live nor work in a lahar hazard zone were more likely to have an emergency kit and to see themselves as more prepared; those who will need help to evacuate see the risk as lower but feel less prepared; those who think their community and officials are more prepared feel more prepared themselves; and benefits of evacuation drills and testing evacuation routes including stronger intentions to evacuate using an encouraged method and higher self-efficacy. 

Transitions: comparing timescales of eruption and evacuation at Volcán de Fuego (Guatemala) to understand relationships between hazard evolution and responsive action

During volcanic crisis, effective risk mitigation requires that institutions and local people respond promptly to protect lives and livelihoods. This paper asks: over what timescales do explosive paroxysmal eruptions evolve? How do these timescales relate to those of people’s past responses? The paper explores these questions by comparing timescales of eruptions and evacuations for several recent events at Volcán de Fuego (Guatemala) to identify lags in evacuation and determine the drivers of these lags, finding that eruption and response timescales are comparable. However, it also finds that periods of decision-making and warning dissemination delay response until well after eruptive onset.

Volcano disaster risk management during crisis: implementation of risk communication in Indonesia

Volcano disaster risk management during a crisis requires continuous and intensive risk communication with the public. However, to have the desired public response during a crisis, it is necessary to improve the community’s understanding of volcanoes. Knowledge, experience, risk perception, communication, and drills shape good community responses. These require a bottom-up process of communication and involvement of the community in decision-making and engagement with the government. Thus, proper crisis management requires top-down and bottom-up communication and joint work between the scientists, decision-makers, and the community. The response from the community can be improved through community-based preparedness with a culturally sensitive approach that facilitates a strong relationship and participation of community members according to their customs. 

Lava flow impacts on the built environment: insights from a new global dataset

The recent destruction of thousands of homes by lava flows from La Palma volcano, Canary Islands, and Nyiragongo volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo, serves as a reminder of the devastating impact that lava flows can have on communities living in volcanically active regions. Damage to buildings and infrastructure can have widespread and long-lasting effects on rehabilitation and livelihoods. Our understanding of how lava flows interact with buildings is limited and based upon sparse empirical data. Often a binary impact is assumed (destroyed when in contact with the flow and intact when not in contact with the flow), although previous events have shown this to be an oversimplification. 

Following the tug of the audience from complex to simplified hazards maps at Cascade Range volcanoes

Volcano-hazard maps are broadly recognized as important tools for forecasting and managing volcanic crises and for disseminating spatial information to authorities and people at risk. As scientists, we might presume that hazards maps can be developed at the time and with the methods of our discretion, yet the co-production of maps with stakeholder groups, who have programmatic needs of their own, can sway the timing, usability, and acceptance of map products. This paper argues that simplified versions of maps should be developed in tandem with any hazard maps that contain technical complexities, not as a replacement, but as a mechanism to broaden awareness of hazards. When scientists endeavor to design vivid and easy-to-understand maps, people in many professions find uses for them within their organization’s information products, resulting in extensive distribution.

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Physical Sciences > Earth and Environmental Sciences > Earth Sciences > Geodynamics > Volcanology
Natural Hazards
Physical Sciences > Earth and Environmental Sciences > Earth Sciences > Natural Hazards
Environmental Studies
Life Sciences > Biological Sciences > Ecology > Environmental Studies