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The scientific-community interface over the fifteen-year eruptive episode of Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador

Mothes, PA; Yepes, HA; Hall, ML; Ramón, PA; Steele, AL; Ruiz, MC; (2015) The scientific-community interface over the fifteen-year eruptive episode of Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador. Journal of Applied Volcanology , 4 , Article 9. 10.1186/s13617-015-0025-y. Green open access

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Abstract

The successful handling of Tungurahua's frequent eruptions during 15 years via permanent instrumental monitoring and good community relations by the Instituto Geofísico of the Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IGEPN) is due to these factors: 1./Instrumental monitoring of Tungurahua volcano by the IGEPN started a decade before the 1999 reactivation. In early 1999 increased background seismicity and high SO2 readings suggested that magma was stirring. 2./The long-term participation of IGEPN scientists in both monitoring and volcanic studies has fostered an institutional memory and a knowledge base that is referential for providing early warnings and in aiding the authorities to make critical decisions in anticipation of dangerous volcanic behavior. 3./The permanent presence of IGEPN scientists at Tungurahua's Volcano Observatory (OVT) who oversee the monitoring operations and maintain close contact with the threatened community. 4./Participation of volunteer volcano observers from the community (vigías) who convey their observations 24 hours/day via a pan-volcano UHF radio system. Challenges to the operation's success include: Identifying precursor geophysical signals before volcanic eruptions begin; financing OVT's operations and real-time instrumental surveillance; assuring active involvement of experienced scientists at OVT; instructing new rotating public officials in volcanic hazards and volcano crisis management, as well as working alongside them during critical moments; maintaining positive working relations with the community. Here we report on volcano monitoring and risk reduction strategies that have served the IGEPN in a semi-rural environment, where ~30,000 people reside in high-risk zones. On reflection, we believe that our "bottom-up" approach has been effective and has merit. This approach developed gradually; our actions were in response to our instrumental monitoring activity of Tungurahua, providing credible information to the public and authorities and overcoming negative perceptions by the population. If there is a recipe, it is conditioned on good monitoring results and interpretation that is adequately and frequently communicated to those concerned, and over many years fostering a mutual trust among the actors. Some strategies described herein may not be pertinent at a volcano whose eruptive activity is short-lived.

Type: Article
Title: The scientific-community interface over the fifteen-year eruptive episode of Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13617-015-0025-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13617-015-0025-y
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068169
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