Statistics in volcanology
A key aim of volcanology is the accurate, quantitative forecasting of volcanic hazards. To this end, volcanic processes have long been subject to intense scrutiny, both in the field and the laboratory. The result is a wealth of data, not all of which is well-constrained or complete, and a wide range of sophisticated numerical models that can successfully replicate the primary features of many volcanic flows. Thus, we can legitimately claim that physical volcanologists today have achieved an understanding and quantitative description of the principal, underlying mechanisms that drive volcanic eruptions. This provides a strong foundation, but is not in itself sufficient for accurate forecasting. The focus of this past modelling has been almost exclusively process-oriented and deterministic. The stochastic nature of much volcanological data has rarely been exploited and the models do not generally produce the type of probabilistic outputs needed for forecasting. This is now changing.
An international Workshop on Statistics in Volcanology, attended by 70 people at the University of Bristol in March 2004, led directly to the publication of the first research-level textbook on 'Statistics in Volcanology' which forms the first volume of the new IAVCEI book series. HM Mader, SC Coles, CB Connor and LJ Connor (Eds) (2006) Title: Statistics in Volcanology. Special Publications of IAVCEI, 1, 1-14. Geological Society, London. For more details of this volume or to order please go to The Geological Society of London online bookshop.
A group from the University of Bristol recently proposed to IAVCEI (the International Association for Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior) that there should be a new Commission on Statistics in Volcanology (COSIV). We are pleased that this proposal was accepted earlier this year. The objectives of COSIV are:
- To organise and coordinate workshops and publications.
- To facilitate communication between researchers and civil defense authorities.
- To enable interaction with statisticians in other areas in Earth Science and Mathematics.
- To encourage access and exchange of datasets.
- Determine and set standards.