Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 705–723 | Cite as

Combining long- and short-term probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment with cost-benefit analysis to support decision making in a volcanic crisis from the Auckland Volcanic Field, New Zealand

  • Laura SandriEmail author
  • Gill Jolly
  • Jan Lindsay
  • Tracy Howe
  • Warner Marzocchi
Research Article


By using BET_VH, we propose a quantitative probabilistic hazard assessment for base surge impact in Auckland, New Zealand. Base surges resulting from phreatomagmatic eruptions are among the most dangerous phenomena likely to be associated with the initial phase of a future eruption in the Auckland Volcanic Field. The assessment is done both in the long-term and in a specific short-term case study, i.e. the simulated pre-eruptive unrest episode during Exercise Ruaumoko, a national civil defence exercise. The most important factors to account for are the uncertainties in the vent location (expected for a volcanic field) and in the run-out distance of base surges. Here, we propose a statistical model of base surge run-out distance based on deposits from past eruptions in Auckland and in analogous volcanoes. We then combine our hazard assessment with an analysis of the costs and benefits of evacuating people (on a 1 × 1-km cell grid). In addition to stressing the practical importance of a cost-benefit analysis in creating a bridge between volcanologists and decision makers, our study highlights some important points. First, in the Exercise Ruaumoko application, the evacuation call seems to be required as soon as the unrest phase is clear; additionally, the evacuation area is much larger than what is recommended in the current contingency plan. Secondly, the evacuation area changes in size with time, due to a reduction in the uncertainty in the vent location and increase in the probability of eruption. It is the tradeoff between these two factors that dictates which cells must be evacuated, and when, thus determining the ultimate size and shape of the area to be evacuated.


Auckland Volcanic Field Base surge Bayesian event tree Volcanic hazard Cost benefit analysis 



We wish to thank Graham Leonard for providing the maps of the area investigated. This work was undertaken through the DEtermining VOlcanic Risk in Auckland (DEVORA) project co-funded by the NZ Earthquake Commission and the Auckland Council. GJ was supported by the NZ Foundation for Research Science and Technology (GHS-FRST) contract C05X0804 under the Natural Hazards Research Platform. JL was supported by a grant from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission EQC. We are grateful for the comments of two anonymous reviewers, which significantly improved the quality of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Sandri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gill Jolly
    • 2
  • Jan Lindsay
    • 3
    • 4
  • Tracy Howe
    • 3
  • Warner Marzocchi
    • 5
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.GNS Science, Wairakei Research CentreTaupoNew Zealand
  3. 3.Institute of Earth Science and EngineeringThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.School of EnvironmentThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  5. 5.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaRomaItaly

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