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Volcanic unrest in Europe and Latin America: Phenomenology, eruption precursors, hazard forecast, and risk mitigation

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Optimised strategies to improve global understanding and management of volcanic unrest

An EU initiative unearthed the mysteries of volcanic unrest by examining scientific data and information from unrest periods for several volcano types.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Volcanic unrest does not necessarily always lead to eruption. It is this very complexity and uncertainty that makes generating more knowledge about short-term volcanic hazards all the more important. With this in mind, the EU-funded VUELCO (Volcanic unrest in Europe and Latin America: Phenomenology, eruption precursors, hazard forecast, and risk mitigation) project conducted an intensive study of phenomenology and eruption precursors. Overall, the goal was to learn more about causative processes and links so as to advance global strategies for hazard forecast and risk mitigation. To achieve its aims, VUELCO combined fundamental research into causes and effects of volcanic unrest with uncertainty assessment and probabilistic forecasting. Project partners monitored data from unrest periods for six volcano types in Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the West Indies. They conducted experiments to establish a mechanistic understanding of subsurface processes that can cause unrest and assist in identifying key volcano monitoring parameters. Numerical models helped to establish a link between the processes and volcano monitoring data in order to inform on the causes of unrest and its short-term evolution. The VUELCO team used uncertainty assessment and new short-term probabilistic hazard forecasting tools in the development of strategic options for effective risk mitigation, management and governance during unrest episodes. Using project outcomes and stakeholder feedback as a basis, researchers produced best practice recommendations and policy guidelines. These help to ensure more efficient and effective communication and enhanced preparedness for coping with the aftermath of unrest events. VUELCO provided considerable insight into processes taking place before and during volcanic unrest that will improve scientists' forecasting of outcomes. This will aid communication, decision-making and management during unrest situations.


Volcanic unrest, volcano, eruption, VUELCO, hazard forecast, risk mitigation

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