Journal of Applied Volcanology
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Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 2191-5040
Published by SpringerOpen [150 journals]
[8 followers] Follow
Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 2191-5040
Published by SpringerOpen [150 journals]
- An analysis of the issuance of volcanic alert levels during volcanic
Abstract: Abstract Volcano Alert Levels (VALs) are used by volcanologists to quickly and simply inform local populations and government authorities of the level of volcanic unrest and eruption likelihood. Most VALs do not explicitly forecast volcanic activity but, in many instances they play an important role in informing decisions: defining exclusion zones and issuing evacuation alerts. We have performed an analysis on VALs (194 eruptions, 60 volcanoes) to assess how well they reflect unrest before eruption and what other variables might control them. We have also looked at VALs in cases where there was an increase in alert level but no eruption, these we term 'Unrest without eruption' (UwE). We have analyzed our results in the context of eruption and volcano type, instrumentation, eruption recurrence, and the population within 30 km. We found that, 19% of the VALs issued between 1990 and 2013 for events that ended with eruption accurately reflect the hazard before eruption. This increases to ~30% if we only consider eruptions with a VEI ≥ 3. VALs of eruptions from closed-vent volcanoes are more appropriately issued than those from open-vents. These two observations likely reflect the longer and stronger unrest signals associated with large eruptions from closed vents. More appropriate VAL issuance is also found in volcanoes with monitoring networks that are moderately-well equipped (3-4 seismometers, GPS and gas monitoring). There is also a better correlation between VALs and eruptions with higher population density. We see over time (1990 to 2013) that there was an increase in the proportion of ‘UwE’ alerts to other alerts, suggesting increasing willingness to use VALs well before an eruption is certain. The number of accurate VALs increases from 19% to 55% if we consider all UwE alerts to be appropriate. This higher ‘success’ rate for all alerts (with or without eruption) is improving over time, but still not optimal. We suggest that the low global accuracy of the issuance of VALs could be improved by having more monitoring networks equipped to a medium level, but also by using probabilistic hazard management during volcanic crisis.
- Communicating the status of volcanic activity: revising New
Zealand’s volcanic alert level system
Abstract: Abstract The communication of scientific information to stakeholders is a critical component of an effective Volcano Early Warning System. Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) systems are used in many countries as a tool within early warning systems to communicate complex volcanic information in a simple form, from which response decisions can be made. Such communication tools need to meet the requirements of a wide range of end-users, including emergency managers, the aviation industry, media, and the public. They also need to be usable by scientists who determine the alert levels based on integration and interpretation of volcano observations and monitoring data. This paper presents an exploratory review of New Zealand’s 20-year old VAL system, and for the first time globally, describes the development of a VAL system based on a robust qualitative ethnographic methodology. This involved semi-structured interviews of scientists and VAL end-users, document analysis, and observations of scientists over three years as they set the VAL during multiple unrest and eruption crises. The transdisciplinary nature of this research allows the system to be revised with direct input by end-users of the system, highlighting the benefits of using social science methodologies in developing or revising warning systems. The methodology utilised in this research is applicable worldwide, and could be used to develop warning systems for other hazards. It was identified that there are multiple possibilities for foundations of VAL systems, including phenomena, hazard, risk, and magmatic processes. The revised VAL system is based on the findings of this research, and was implemented in collaboration with New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management in July 2014. It is used for all of New Zealand’s active volcanoes, and is understandable, intuitive, and informative. The complete process of exploring a current VAL system, revising it, and introducing it to New Zealand society is described.
- Santorini unrest 2011–2012: an immediate Bayesian belief network
analysis of eruption scenario probabilities for urgent decision support
Abstract: Abstract Unrest at the Greek volcanic island of Santorini in 2011–2012 was a cause for unease for some governments, concerned about risks to their nationals on this popular holiday island if an eruption took place. In support of urgent response planning undertaken by the UK government, we developed a rapid evaluation of different eruption scenario probabilities, using the Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) formulation for combining multiple strands of scientific and observational evidence. Here we present three alternative BBN models that were devised in early 2012 for assessing the situation: (1) a basic static net for evaluating probabilities at any one moment in time, utilising just four key unrest indicators; (2) a compound time-stepping net, extending the basic net to update probabilities through time as the indicators changed; and (3) a more comprehensive net, with multiple lines of other data and observations incorporated, reflecting diversity of modern multi-parameter monitoring techniques. A key conclusion is that, even with just three or four basic indicators, it is not feasible, or defensible, to attempt to judge mentally the implications of signs of unrest – a structured probabilistic procedure using Bayes’ Rule is a rational approach for enumerating evidential strengths reliably. In the Santorini case, the unrest, and official anxiety, diminished quite quickly and our approach was not progressed to the point where detailed consideration was given to BBN parameters, analysis of data uncertainty or the elicitation of expert judgements for quantifying uncertainties to be used in the BBN. Had this been done, the resulting scenario probabilities could have been adopted to determine likelihoods of volcanic hazards and risks caused by possible eruptive activity, as identified in a concurrent assessment of the scale and intensities of potential volcanic impacts (Jenkins et. al., Assessment of ash and gas hazard for future eruptions at Santorini Volcano, Greece. forthcoming). Ideally, such hazard and risk assessments should be elaborated in detail and critiqued well before crisis-level unrest develops – not initiated and implemented within a few hours just when a situation looks ominous. In particular, careful analysis of all information is required to determine and represent parameter uncertainties comprehensively and dependably.
- Risk reduction through community-based monitoring: the class="a-plus-plus">vigías of Tungurahua,
Abstract: Abstract Since 2000, a network of volunteers known as vigías has been engaged in community-based volcano monitoring, which involves local citizens in the collection of scientific data, around volcán Tungurahua, Ecuador. This paper provides the first detailed description and analysis of this well-established initiative, drawing implications for volcanic risk reduction elsewhere. Based on 32 semi-structured interviews and other qualitative data collected in June and July 2013 with institutional actors and with vigías themselves, the paper documents the origins and development of the network, identifies factors that have sustained it, and analyses the ways in which it contributes to disaster risk reduction. Importantly, the case highlights how this community-based network performs multiple functions in reducing volcanic risk. The vigías network functions simultaneously as a source of observational data for scientists; as a communication channel for increasing community awareness, understanding of hazard processes and for enhancing preparedness; and as an early warning system for civil protection. Less tangible benefits with nonetheless material consequences include enhanced social capital – through the relationships and capabilities that are fostered – and improved trust between partners. Establishing trust-based relationships between citizens, the vigías, scientists and civil protection authorities is one important factor in the effectiveness and resilience of the network. Other factors discussed in the paper that have contributed to the longevity of the network include the motivations of the vigías, a clear and regular communication protocol, persistent volcanic activity, the efforts of key individuals, and examples of successful risk reduction attributable to the activities of the network. Lessons that can be learned about the potential of community-based monitoring for disaster risk reduction in other contexts are identified, including what the case tells us about the conditions that can affect the effectiveness of such initiatives and their resilience to changing circumstances.
- Volcanic ashfall preparedness poster series: a collaborative process for
reducing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure
Abstract: Abstract Volcanic ashfall can be damaging and disruptive to critical infrastructure including electricity generation, transmission and distribution networks, drinking-water and wastewater treatment plants, roads, airports and communications networks. There is growing evidence that a range of preparedness and mitigation strategies can reduce ashfall impacts for critical infrastructure organisations. This paper describes a collaborative process used to create a suite of ten posters designed to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure organisations to volcanic ashfall hazards. Key features of this process were: 1) a partnership between critical infrastructure managers and other relevant government agencies with volcanic impact scientists, including extensive consultation and review phases; and 2) translation of volcanic impact research into practical management tools. Whilst these posters have been developed specifically for use in New Zealand, we propose that this development process has more widely applicable value for strengthening volcanic risk resilience in other settings.
- Perception of a chronic volcanic hazard: persistent degassing at Masaya
Abstract: Abstract This study takes a combined qualitative and quantitative approach to examining the chronic hazard posed by persistent degassing at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua. The gas is a highly salient threat in communities surrounding Masaya volcano, with the elevated salience level of his invisible hazard deriving from the highly perceptible impacts of the degassing; these include individual and material impacts such as increased prevalence of self-reported respiratory disease and decreased crop diversification and productivity. Qualitative results concur with findings from a quantitative assessment of ambient SO2 exposure using diffusion tubes: the current level of SO2 degassing far exceeds international guideline values, making it a likely cause of adverse health effects for the general population. Conversely contaminant levels of heavy and toxic metals in foodstuffs were found to be below international standards. A community-based integrated hazard mitigation approach identified by this research is the cultivation of crops, particularly pineapple (Ananas comosus) and pitaya (Hylocereus sp.), that are better able to withstand the local environmental conditions (e.g. increased atmospheric SO2 and acid gas deposition). Despite this, little is known regarding disaster response and risk reduction at the community level and the gas hazard is largely overlooked. This shows large scope for increasing resilience in collaboration with the community, through for example the development of community-level risk management committees, improvement and implementation of (gas) mitigation strategies and disaster preparedness approaches. By reducing the impacts of the chronic hazard posed by persistent volcanic degassing, resilience to acute hazards is also likely to improve.
- Retrospective analysis of uncertain eruption precursors at La
Soufrière volcano, Guadeloupe, 1975–77: volcanic hazard
assessment using a Bayesian Belief Network approach
Abstract: Background Scientists monitoring active volcanoes are increasingly required to provide decision support to civil authorities during periods of unrest. As the extent and resolution of monitoring improves, the process of jointly interpreting multiple strands of indirect evidence becomes increasingly complex. Similarities with uncertainties in medical diagnosis suggest a formal evidence-based approach, whereby monitoring data are analysed synoptically to provide probabilistic hazard forecasts. A statistical tool to formalize such inferences is the Bayesian Belief Network (BBN). By explicitly representing conditional dependencies between the volcanological model and observations, BBNs use probability theory to treat uncertainties in a rational and auditable manner, as warranted by the strength of the scientific evidence. A retrospective analysis is given for the 1976 Guadeloupe crisis, using a BBN to provide inferential assessment of the state of the evolving magmatic system and probability of incipient eruption. Conditional dependencies are characterized quantitatively by structured expert elicitation. Results Analysis of the available monitoring data suggests that at the height of the crisis the probability of magmatic intrusion was high, in accordance with scientific thinking at the time. The corresponding probability of magmatic eruption was elevated in July and August 1976 and signs of precursory activity were justifiably cause for concern. However, collective uncertainty about the future course of the crisis was also substantial. Of all the possible scenarios, the most likely outcome evinced by interpretation of observations on 31 August 1976 was 'no eruption’ (mean probability 0.5); the chance of a magmatic eruption/blast had an estimated mean probability of ~0.4. There was therefore no evidential basis for asserting one scenario to be significantly more likely than another. Conclusions Our analysis adds objective probabilistic expression to the volcanological narrative at the time of the 1976 crisis, and demonstrates that a formal evidential case could have supported the authorities' concerns about public safety and decision to evacuate. Revisiting the episode highlights many challenges for modern, contemporary decision making under conditions of considerable uncertainty, and suggests the BBN is a suitable framework for marshalling multiple, uncertain observations, model results and interpretations. The formulation presented here can be developed as a tool for ongoing use in the volcano observatory.
- Continuous monitoring of Hawaiian volcanoes with thermal cameras
Abstract: Abstract Continuously operating thermal cameras are becoming more common around the world for volcano monitoring, and offer distinct advantages over conventional visual webcams for observing volcanic activity. Thermal cameras can sometimes “see” through volcanic fume that obscures views to visual webcams and the naked eye, and often provide a much clearer view of the extent of high temperature areas and activity levels. We describe a thermal camera network recently installed by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to monitor Kīlauea’s summit and east rift zone eruptions (at Halema‘uma‘u and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō craters, respectively) and to keep watch on Mauna Loa’s summit caldera. The cameras are long-wave, temperature-calibrated models protected in custom enclosures, and often positioned on crater rims close to active vents. Images are transmitted back to the observatory in real-time, and numerous Matlab scripts manage the data and provide automated analyses and alarms. The cameras have greatly improved HVO’s observations of surface eruptive activity, which includes highly dynamic lava lake activity at Halema‘uma‘u, major disruptions to Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater and several fissure eruptions.
- Quantifying uncertainties in the measurement of tephra fall thickness
Abstract: Abstract The uncertainties associated with tephra thickness measurements are calculated and implications for volume estimates are presented. Statistical methods are used to analyse the large dataset of Walker and Croasdale J Geol Soc 127:17-55, 1971 of the Fogo A plinian deposit, São Miguel, Azores. Dirichlet tessellation demonstrates that Walker and Croasdale’s measurements are highly clustered spatially and the area represented by a single measurement ranges between 0.5 and 10 km2. K-means cluster analysis shows that lower thickness uncertainties are associated with closely spaced measurements. Re-examination and analysis of Fogo A fall deposits show thickness uncertainties are about 9% for measured thickness while uncertainty associated with natural variance ranges, between 10 and 40%, with an average error of 30%. Correlations between measurement uncertainties and natural variance are complex and depend on a unit’s thickness, position within a succession and distance from source. Normative error increases as tephra thickness decreases. The degree to which thickness measurement error impacts on volume uncertainty depends on the number of measurements within a given dataset and their associated uncertainty. The uncertainty in volume associated with thickness uncertainty calculated herein for Fogo A is 1.3%, equivalent to a volume of 0.02 km3. However uncertainties associated with smaller datasets can be much larger; for example typically exceeding 10% for less than 20 data points.
- UK monitoring and deposition of tephra from the May 2011 eruption of
Abstract: Mapping the transport and deposition of tephra is important for the assessment of an eruption’s impact on health, transport, vegetation and infrastructure, but it is challenging at large distances from a volcano (> 1000 km), where it may not be visible to the naked eye. Here we describe a range of methods used to quantify tephra deposition and impact on air quality during the 21–28 May 2011 explosive basaltic eruption of Grímsvötn volcano, Iceland. Tephra was detected in the UK with tape-on-paper samples, rainwater samples, rainwater chemistry analysis, pollen slides and air quality measurements. Combined results show that deposition was mainly in Scotland, on 23–25 May. Deposition was patchy, with adjacent locations recording different results. Tape-on-paper samples, collected by volunteer citizen scientists, and giving excellent coverage across the UK, showed deposition at latitudes >55°N, mainly on 24 May. Rainwater samples contained ash grains mostly 20–30 μ m long (maximum recorded grainsize 80 μ m) with loadings of up to 116 g r a i n s c m -2. Analysis of rainwater chemistry showed high concentrations of dissolved Fe and Al in samples from N Scotland on 24–27 May. Pollen slides recorded small glass shards (3–4 μ m long) deposited during rainfall on 24–25 May and again on 27 May. Air quality monitoring detected increased particulate matter concentrations in many parts of the country. An hourly concentration of particles < 10 μ m in diameter (PM10) of ∼413 μ g m -3, was measured in Aberdeen at 02:00hrs on 24 May 2011. Significant peaks of non-anthropogenic PM, which is most likely to have a volcanic origin, could be tracked as far south as the English Midlands (> 53°N) on 24 May but no negative effects on health were reported. Although the eruption column reached altitudes of 20 km above sea level, air mass trajectories suggest that only tephra from the lowest 4 km above sea level of the eruption plume was transported to the UK. This demonstrates that even low plumes could deliver tephra to the UK and suggests that the relative lack of basaltic tephra in the tephrochronological record is not due to transport processes.
- A statistical analysis of the global historical volcanic fatalities record
Abstract: Abstract A new database of volcanic fatalities is presented and analysed, covering the period 1600 to 2010 AD. Data are from four sources: the Smithsonian Institution, Witham (2005), CRED EM-DAT and Munich RE. The data were combined and formatted, with a weighted average fatality figure used where more than one source reports an event; the former two databases were weighted twice as strongly as the latter two. More fatal incidents are contained within our database than similar previous works; approximately 46% of the fatal incidents are listed in only one of the four sources, and fewer than 10% are in all four. 278,880 fatalities are recorded in the database, resultant from 533 fatal incidents. The fatality count is dominated by a handful of disasters, though the majority of fatal incidents have caused fewer than ten fatalities. Number and empirical probability of fatalities are broadly correlated with VEI, but are more strongly influenced by population density around volcanoes and the occurrence and extent of lahars (mudflows) and pyroclastic density currents, which have caused 50% of fatalities. Indonesia, the Philippines, and the West Indies dominate the spatial distribution of fatalities, and there is some negative correlation between regional development and number of fatalities. With the largest disasters removed, over 90% of fatalities occurred between 5 km and 30 km from volcanoes, though the most devastating eruptions impacted far beyond these distances. A new measure, the Volcano Fatality Index, is defined to explore temporal changes in societal vulnerability to volcanic hazards. The measure incorporates population growth and recording improvements with the fatality data, and shows prima facie evidence that vulnerability to volcanic hazards has fallen during the last two centuries. Results and interpretations are limited in scope by the underlying fatalities data, which are affected by under-recording, uncertainty, and bias. Attempts have been made to estimate the extent of these issues, and to remove their effects where possible. The data analysed here are provided as supplementary material. An updated version of the Smithsonian fatality database fully integrated with this database will be publicly available in the near future and subsequently incorporate new data.
- Homemade ashmeter: a low-cost, high-efficiency solution to improve tephra
field-data collection for contemporary explosive eruptions
Abstract: Abstract Tephra fall is a major volcanic hazard and deposit characteristics are critical data used to quantify eruptive material. The homemade ashmeter is a device used to precisely measure thickness, area density, and bulk density of small ash deposits (< 20 mm). This instrument provides both direct measurements in the field and sample collection for laboratory analysis. The primary purpose of this device is to collect fallout from small-volume and distal eruption clouds. The homemade ashmeter is composed of an outer container, a funnel, an inner gauge, and a filter cap, and permits sampling without major weathering effects. It is constructed using mostly recycled materials, thus is very cost effective. To test this system, seven instruments were installed during the January 14 – March 16, 2012 eruption of Tungurahua volcano, Ecuador. The ashmeter allows the measurement and sampling of small tephra falls that can be used to improve fallout hazard assessments.
- Operational eruption forecasting at high-risk volcanoes: the case of Campi
Abstract: High risk volcanic events are commonly preceded by long periods of unrest during which scientists are asked to provide near real-time forecasts. The rarity of such events, inaccessibility of the underground volcanic system, non-linear behaviors, and limited datasets constitute major sources of uncertainty. In order to provide reasoned guidance in the face of uncertainties, monitoring observations and conceptual/theoretical models must be incorporated into a formal and structured probabilistic scheme using evidence science principles. As uncertainty and subjectivity are inescapable components of volcanic hazard forecasts, they must be dealt with and clearly communicated to decision-makers and society. Here, we present the set-up of an automated near-real-time tool for short-term eruption forecasting for Campi Flegrei caldera (CFc), Italy. The tool, based on a Bayesian Event Tree scheme, takes account of all the available information, and subjectivity of choices is dealt through a 5-year-long elicitation experiment with a team of about 30 of the major experts of the geological history, dynamics and monitoring of CFc. The tool provides prompt probabilistic assessment in near real-time, making it particularly suitable for tracking a rapidly evolving crisis, and it is easily reviewable once new observations and/or models become available. The quantitative rules behind the tool, which represent the group view of the elicited community of experts, are defined during a period of quiescence, thus allowing prior scrutiny of any scientific input into the model, and minimizing the external stress on scientists during an actual emergency phase. Notably, the results also show that CFc may pose a higher threat to the city of Naples than the better-known Mount Vesuvius.
- Global database on large magnitude explosive volcanic eruptions (LaMEVE)
Abstract: Abstract To facilitate the assessment of hazards and risk from volcanoes, we have created a comprehensive global database of Quaternary Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE). This forms part of the larger Volcanic Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA), and also forms part of the Global Volcano Model (GVM) initiative (http://www.globalvolcanomodel.org). A flexible search tool allows users to select data on a global, regional or local scale; the selected data can be downloaded into a spreadsheet. The database is publically available online at http://www.bgs.ac.uk/vogripa and currently contains information on nearly 3,000 volcanoes and over 1,800 Quaternary eruption records. Not all volcanoes currently have eruptions associated with them but have been included to allow for easy expansion of the database as more data are found. Data fields include: magnitude, Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), deposit volumes, eruption dates, and rock type. The scientific community is invited to contribute new data and also alert the database manager to potentially incorrect data. Whilst the database currently focuses only on large magnitude eruptions, it will be expanded to include data specifically relating to the principal volcanic hazards (e.g. pyroclastic flows, tephra fall, lahars, debris avalanches, ballistics), as well as vulnerability (e.g. population figures, building type) to facilitate risk assessments of future eruptions.
- The role of multidisciplinary research and collaboration for improving the
resilience of communities to volcanic risk
- Probabilistic approach to modeling lava flow inundation: a lava flow
hazard assessment for a nuclear facility in Armenia
Abstract: Abstract Probabilistic modeling of lava flow hazard is a two-stage process. The first step is an estimation of the possible locations of future eruptive vents followed by an estimation of probable areas of inundation by lava flows issuing from these vents. We present a methodology using this two-stage approach to estimate lava flow hazard at a nuclear power plant site near Aragats, a Quaternary volcano in Armenia.
- Short- and long-term evacuation of people and livestock during a volcanic
crisis: lessons from the 1991 eruption of Volcán Hudson, Chile
Abstract: Abstract Human and livestock evacuation during volcanic crises is an essential component of volcanic risk management. This study investigates the evacuation of human and livestock populations from areas impacted by ashfall from the 1991 Hudson eruption, Patagonia. The eruption was one of the largest in the 20th century resulting in significant impacts on rural communities in affected areas, including the evacuation of people and livestock. In the short-term (<3 months), evacuation of people from farms and rural towns was driven primarily by ashfall and ash storm impacts on public health and essential services. Severe impacts on livestock and the inability to restore vegetation growth following pasture burial, also meant pastoral farming became unsustainable in the short term. This resulted in evacuation of farms for usually <1, but up to 4 years following the ashfall and subsequent intense ash-storms. In areas of very heavy ashfall (>1 m) or where agricultural systems were stressed (from drought and long-term low commodity prices) many farms were abandoned, resulting in permanent migration of the farm population. Farms and farmers under pressure from marginal economic returns were the least likely to cope with the 'shock' of the ashfall. The financial capacity of farmers was important in their resilience and ability to return once conditions improved, although emotional attachment to the land sometime outweighed financial considerations. Evacuation of livestock in areas affected by ash falls was undertaken by many farmers, but it was not very successful or economically justifiable. Access for livestock trucks to the impacted area was difficult due to a poor road network, ashfall and snow induced blockage, and remobilised ash inhibiting visibility. The lack of reliable records of livestock populations inhibited evacuation and efforts to supply supplementary feed to the remaining livestock. The very poor condition of livestock prior to the eruption and burial of feed following the eruption often made evacuation uneconomic as well as reducing livestock resilience to cope with the eruption and transport impacts. The lack of capacity within the local livestock market and lack of available grazing land for the influx of transported livestock were also key failings of the evacuation effort.