Supporting the Development of Procedures for Communications During Volcanic Emergencies: Lessons Learnt from the Canary Islands (Spain) and Etna and Stromboli (Italy)

  • M. C. Solana
  • S. Calvari
  • C. R. J. Kilburn
  • H. Gutierrez
  • D. Chester
  • A. Duncan
Part of the Advances in Volcanology book series (VOLCAN)


Volcanic crises are complex and especially challenging to manage. Volcanic unrest is characterised by uncertainty about whether an eruption will or will not take place, as well as its possible location, size and evolution. Planning is further complicated by the range of potential hazards and the variety of disciplines involved in forecasting and responding to volcanic emergencies. Effective management is favoured at frequently active volcanoes, owing to the experience gained through the repeated ‘testing’ of systems of communication. Even when plans have not been officially put in place, the groups involved tend to have an understanding of their roles and responsibilities and those of others. Such experience is rarely available at volcanoes that have been quiescent for several generations. Emergency responses are less effective, not only because of uncertainties about the volcanic system itself, but also because scientists, crisis directors, managers and the public are inexperienced in volcanic unrest. In such situations, tensions and misunderstandings result in poor communication and have the potential to affect decision making and delay vital operations. Here we compare experiences on communicating information during crises on volcanoes reawakening after long repose (El Hierro in the Canary Islands) and in frequent eruption (Etna and Stromboli in Sicily). The results provide a basis for enhancing communication protocols during volcanic emergencies.


Communication Volcano Emergencies Canary islands Etna Stromboli 



We would like to thank the organisers and participants of the VUELCO meeting in Rome in 2013 for their participation in an informal survey and especially Carina Fearnley for her help with the data collection. We also thank the scientific and civil defence personnel involved in the response to the 2011–2012 El Hierro emergency for sharing their opinions and concerns. A special thank you goes to Roger Jennings for highlighting the institutional and managerial differences between private and public organisations and academia. Finally we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments and advice.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Solana
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Calvari
    • 3
  • C. R. J. Kilburn
    • 4
  • H. Gutierrez
    • 5
  • D. Chester
    • 6
    • 7
  • A. Duncan
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PortsmouthPortsmouthUK
  2. 2.Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias (INVOLCAN)Antiguo Hotel TaoroPuerto de La CruzSpain
  3. 3.INGVCataniaItaly
  4. 4.UCL Hazard Centre, Department of Earth SciencesUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Servicio de Protección Civil Y Atención de EmergenciasGobierno de CanariasTenerifeSpain
  6. 6.Department of Geography and Environmental ScienceLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK
  7. 7.Department of Geography and PlanningUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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