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A scale for ranking volcanoes by risk


We propose a simple volcanic risk coefficient (VRC) useful for comparing the degree of risk arising from different volcanoes, which may be used by civil protection agencies and volcano observatories to rapidly allocate limited resources even without a detailed knowledge of each volcano. Volcanic risk coefficient is given by the sum of the volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of the maximum expected eruption from the volcano, the logarithm of the eruption rate, and the logarithm of the population that may be affected by the maximum expected eruption. We show how to apply the method to rank the risk using as examples the volcanoes of Italy and in the Canary Islands. Moreover, we demonstrate that the maximum theoretical volcanic risk coefficient is 17 and pertains to the large caldera-forming volcanoes like Toba or Yellowstone that may affect the life of the entire planet. We develop also a simple plugin for a dedicated Quantum Geographic Information System (QGIS) software to graphically display the VRC of different volcanoes in a region.

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This research has been partially funded by the EC ECHO Grant SI2.695524 (VeTOOLS). The comments of James White, Chris Newhall, and an anonymous reviewer greatly improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Joan Martí.

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Editorial responsibility: J.D.L. White

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Scandone, R., Bartolini, S. & Martí, J. A scale for ranking volcanoes by risk. Bull Volcanol 78, 2 (2016).

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  • Volcanic risk coefficient
  • VEI
  • Volcanoes of Italy
  • Canary Islands
  • QGIS