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European Network of Observatories and Research Infrastructures for Volcanology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EUROVOLC (European Network of Observatories and Research Infrastructures for Volcanology)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2021-01-31

Volcanic hazards present a particularly acute threat to Europe. There are at least 60 active volcanic systems in Europe (e.g. Vesuvius and Etna in Italy, Bardarbunga in Iceland, Santorini in Greece etc.), and numerous others in member states’ overseas territories (e.g. Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, Montserrat etc.). Due to international supply chains and increased globalization, Europe is also vulnerable to eruptions outside its territories. Predicting, preparing for and recovering from volcanic disasters and disruption is a pressing concern. The European volcanology research community plays a key role in the security of Europe, mitigating volcanic risk and providing key scientific information and interpretation during eruption crises. This role was exemplified in the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which demonstrated how even modest volcanic eruptions can have a global economic impact. The eruption caused 1.3 billion euro direct costs to the airline industry and significant impacts to general economic activity in Europe.
Volcanic systems are inherently complex, difficult to predict, present multiple hazards, and eruptions often result in cascading effects. Advances in volcanological research can therefore lead to improvements in risk assessment and management of crises, with significant positive impacts on European society. In practice, however, this does not happen efficiently due to challenges such as the fragmentation of the volcanological community, the time limited duration of research projects, the wide range of disciplines involved, ranging from natural to social sciences and the lack of community test beds to test and validate new models and integrated techniques.
The fragmentation of the community is reflected in its division into Volcano Observatories (VO) with responsibilities to monitor volcanic hazard, research institutes who collaborate closely with the VO and a wider volcanology community with less direct contact with the observatories. The VO are widely scattered across European and European overseas territories making access to VO infrastructure challenging for the wider community, while scientific advances made in the community do not automatically penetrate into observatory activities to benefit society. This hinders community-wide propagation of best practices and standards for data and observational techniques and infrastructures, as well as adoption of common methodologies and protocols for communicating volcanic hazard to stakeholders (i.e. decision-makers, hazard managers, population and media). Moreover, the lack of resources for long-term sustenance of research projects impedes knowledge transfer to the wider volcanological community, so many of these projects’ advances are not automatically picked up by the community.
The EUROVOLC project is structured around activities supporting four main themes: (i) Community building, (ii) Sub-surface processes, (iii) Volcano-atmosphere interactions, and (iv) Volcanic hazard preparedness and risk management. The activities include the traditional categories of Infrastructure projects, Networking people and data, Joint Research, and Access to Research Infrastructures, both virtual and trans-national. The consortium includes all the main European VO and many of the strongest volcano research institutions, as well as Civil Protection agencies, geothermal industry and IT companies. This consortium will address all the aforementioned challenges through the construction of a well-connected and integrated European volcanological community, which will be able to fully support, exploit and build-upon existing and emerging national and pan-European research infrastructures, such as the VO, the e-Infrastructures of EPOS (The European Plate Observing System) and the European volcano supersites implemented in the FUTUREVOLC and MED-SUV projects. This strategy will ensure long-term sustained access to the data and products made available in the project.
Through its activities EUROVOLC will produce a major step forward in the harmonization of volcanological infrastructure with the wider scientific community, optimizing research activities to assure the best possible European response before, during and after volcanic crises.
During the first period EUROVOLC partners worked on community building through community workshops and meetings. A joint meeting between the partners and an important aviation stake holder, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in London was organized to harmonize interactions and protocols.
Information on existing outreach resources was gathered and evaluated to prepare final EUROVOLC outreach material. A project web site (https://eurovolc.eu/) and social media accounts were set up, where information about the project and its activities are posted. The project was introduced at the EGU 2018 and 2019 meetings in Vienna and at the 10th Cities on Volcanoes meeting in Naples in 2018.
Networking activities included development of new standards for volcanic gas observations and hazard communication; identification of datasets to prepare for open access and databases to serve as testbeds for model validation.
Research activities focused on developing methods based on multidisciplinary data analyses. These included: modeling of volcanic ash dispersal in the atmosphere and tools for rapid characterization of volcanic plumes; methodologies to analyze and model multidisciplinary data (seismic, infrasound, geodetic) to detect pre-eruptive unrest signals and automatic processing of such signals; and integration and modeling of geodetic, geochemical and petrological data.
Existing hazard assessment tools were catalogued, and information gathered on several European volcanoes, incl. eruptive history, characteristics and hazards for publication in the European Catalogue of Volcanoes, a web resource under construction by an IT SME partner.
An open trans-national access research call issued in 2018 resulted in funding of 12 research projects utilizing the research infrastructures of the partners. A second call was issued at the end of the period.
Virtual access to several new or improved services was enabled. This includes services for seismic wavefield modeling, crustal deformation modeling, petrological diffusion modeling and access to processed remote sensing data (thermal, SO2) from satellites and near-real-time SO2 gas flux from Mt. Etna.
Important steps towards integrating the volcanological community to facilitate knowledge sharing and propagation of common standards were taken in meetings and networking activities during the first period, where new connections between partners were established and existing ones fortified. The meeting with ICAO’s London VAAC provided a long needed platform to harmonize the communication and information flow from the volcanological community to this important aviation stake holder.
The twelve research projects funded by EUROVOLC have already opened the volcanological research infrastructures to the wider European research community. Six new virtual access services have already been partly or fully established providing new access to modeling tools and data.
The new European Catalogue of Volcanoes being created has great potential for a wide range of use, from outreach to research, in addition to being a reliable source of information for aviation.
Structure, themes and activities of the EUROVOLC project
Volcanological Research Infrastructures in Europe and its overseas territories available in EUROVOLC
Participants in the EUROVOLC project at the Kick-off meeting in Keflavik, Iceland in February 2018