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Publication - Professor Joachim Gottsmann

    Volcanic Unrest Simulation Exercises

    Checklists and Guidance Notes


    Bretton, R, Ciolli, S, Christiani, C, Gottsmann, J, Christie, R & Aspinall, W, 2018, ‘Volcanic Unrest Simulation Exercises: Checklists and Guidance Notes’. in: [tbc]. Springer Berlin Heidelberg


    When a volcano emerges from dormancy into a phase of unrest, the civil protection authorities charged with managing societal risks have the unenviable responsibility of making difficult decisions balancing numerous competing societal, political and economic considerations. A volcano that is threatening to erupt requires sound risk assessments incorporating trusted hazard assessments that are timely, relevant and comprehensible. Foreseeable challenges arise when the inevitable uncertainties of hazard assessment and communication meet societal and political demands for certitude. In some regions that host volcanic hazards, it would be both realistic and prudent to adopt three working assumptions. The complex legal and administrative infrastructures of risk governance will be largely untested and possibly inadequate. Many volcano observatory scientists, and probably even more risk managers and at-risk individuals/communities, will have inadequate recent experience of the challenges of hazard communication during a period of unrest. And lastly, the scientists may also have inadequate practical experience of the needs and management capacities of the risk-mitigation decision makers with whom they must communicate. “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.” (Beta 2011). If this statement is correct, volcanic unrest simulation exercises (VUSE) have a vital role to play within the complex processes of volcanic risk governance. Consistent with the broad approach of the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction 2015–30, this chapter argues that practical knowledge of VUSE can and should be analysed and recorded so that key lessons can be shared for the widest possible benefit. This chapter investigates five recent simulation exercises and presents six complementary checklists based upon data, insights and practice pointers derived from those exercises. The use of checklists, supported by guidance notes, is commended as a pragmatic way to create, test and develop acceptable standards of governance practice. It is argued here that well planned and executed simulation exercises are capable of informing and motivating a wide range of risk governance stakeholders. They can identify process and individual shortcomings that can be mitigated. Simulation exercises can and should play a vital role in reducing volcanic risks.

    Full details in the University publications repository