Natural Hazards

, Volume 28, Issue 2–3, pp 563–589 | Cite as

The Vulnerability of Canada to Volcanic Hazards

  • Mark V. Stasiuk
  • Catherine J. Hickson
  • Taimi Mulder


Western Canada lies in a zone of active tectonics and volcanism, but thedispersed population has witnessed few eruptions due to the remoteness of the volcanoes and their low level ofactivity. This has created a false perception that Canada's volcanoes are extinct.

There are more than 200 potentially-active volcanoes in Canada, 49of which have erupted in the past 10,000 years. They occur in five belts, with origins related totectonic environment. The minimum annual probability of a Canadian volcanic eruption is approximately 1/200;for an effusive (lava) eruption the probability is about 1/220, and for a significant explosive eruptionit is about 1/3333. In-progress studies show that there have been earthquakes associated with at least 9 ofthe youngest Canadian volcanoes since 1975. A scenario of an eruption of Mt. Cayley (50.1°N,123.3°W) shows how western Canada is vulnerable to an eruption. The scenario is basedon past activity in the Garibaldi volcanic belt and involves both explosive and effusive activity.The scenario impact is largely a result of the concentration of vulnerable infrastructure in valleys.

Canadian volcanoes are monitored only by a regional seismic network,that is capable of detecting a M > 2 event in all potentially-active areas.This level of monitoring is probably sufficient to alert scientistsat or near eruption onset, but probably insufficient to allow a timelyforecast of activity. Similarly the level of geological knowledge about the volcanoes is insufficient to createhazard maps. This will improve slightly in 2002 when additional monitoring is implemented in theGaribaldi volcanic belt. The eruption probabilities, possible impacts, monitoring limitations and knowledgegaps suggest that there is a need to increment the volcanic risk mitigation efforts.

volcano eruption earthquake monitoring hazard vulnerability Canada 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark V. Stasiuk
    • 1
  • Catherine J. Hickson
    • 1
  • Taimi Mulder
    • 2
  1. 1.Pacific DivisionGeological Survey of CanadaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Pacific Division, Pacific Geoscience CentreGeological Survey of CanadaSidneyCanada

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