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£900,000 for study into forecasting and coping with volcanic eruptions

A small eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, one of the STREVA study volcanoes

A small eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, one of the STREVA study volcanoes Steve Sparks, University of Bristol

Press release issued: 6 July 2012

Researchers at the University of Bristol are part of a new five-year interdisciplinary study exploring better ways to forecast and cope with future volcanic eruptions.

Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA) is the first major UK-led study to integrate the experience of people living in the shadow of potentially active volcanoes with the approaches of natural and social scientists to find new and achievable ways to reduce risk.

Focussing on six volcanoes in Latin America and the Caribbean, the project brings together volcanologists, social scientists, and international development experts from the University of East Anglia (the project leaders), the University of Bristol, the University of Oxford, the University of Leeds, the British Geological Survey and the Overseas Development Institute along with overseas project partners who will work closely with communities directly at risk.

Bristol has secured £900,000 of the project’s £3 million funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

At the start of the project, Bristol researchers will assess hazard and risk at three volcanoes in collaboration with government agencies, and follow the trail of how this information is communicated and used to help protect vulnerable populations.  Following this learning phase, they will identify improvements in predictions and processes, and test these by repeating the exercise on three other volcanoes.

The Bristol component of the project exploits expertise in quantitative hazard and risk assessment, volcano monitoring and modelling of hazardous volcanic flows in the Schools of Earth Sciences, Geographical Sciences and Mathematics, and the Cabot Institute.

Bristol lead scientist, Dr Jeremy Phillips of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences said: “This project provides a unique opportunity to explore and understand the key factors that promote and limit population resilience to volcanic hazards. We will tackle this question by combining state of the art predictions of hazard and risk with detailed assessments of how this information is used by populations, risk managers, policy makers and governments.

“Linking these components in a large-scale study over six volcanoes in three countries gives an unparalleled opportunity to assess whether increased resilience to volcanic hazard will most readily result from improved predictions, or how this information is communicated and used.”

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