The Narrow Margin of Successful Volcanic-Risk Mitigation

  • C. G. Newhall
  • R. S. Punongbayan

Abstract

Successful mitigation of volcanic risks requires correct forecasts, effective warnings, and a willingness of public officials and citizens to take necessary precautions. Volcanologists should be prepared for obstacles and delays at each step and should be aware that, even when progress is being made toward such forecasts, warnings, and precautionary actions, the margin of safety can be alarmingly narrow.

At Mount St. Helens and Mount Pinatubo, volcanologists made adequate, if imperfect, forecasts, and most public officials took responsible precautions. Despite these positive actions, a suite of problems — including skepticism, bureaucratic and logistic difficulties, and short warning from the volcano — practically eliminated the margin of safety. Ultimately, luck and last-minute efforts played key roles, but warnings and response could easily have been too late.

Keywords

Sugar Steam Sedimentation Explosive Assure 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. G. Newhall
    • 1
  • R. S. Punongbayan
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Geological Sciences, AJ-20University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Philippine Institute of Volcanology and SeismologyQuezon CityPhilippines

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