Safety Recommendations for Volcanologists and the Public

December 1995
The following report was presented in 1994 in the Bulletin of Volcanology, volume 56, pages 151-154.
prepared by: Shigeo Aramaki, chairman; Franco Barberi; Tom Casadevall; and Steve McNutt

A copy of the IAVCEI poster "Safety at Volcanoes" can be acquired for your school by contacting Jon Dehn at (


To research and monitor the activity of a volcano it is often necessary to approach dangerous sites, such as active vents and fumaroles. In such situations unexpected eruptive activity can jeopardise the lives of volcanologists as well as the lives of those attracted to volcanoes by simple curiousity. In recent years there has been a large number of unfortunate accidents involving volcanologists: in June 1991 three volcanologists together with 40 other people were killed when they were engulfed by a pyroclastic flow from the collapse of a lava dome at Unzen Volcano, Japan; in January 1993 six volcanologists and three other people were killed by an explosive eruption as Galeras volcano, Colombia; and in March 1993 two volcanologists were killed by a phreatic explosion at the crater of Guagua Pichincha volcano, Ecuador. Because of these accidents IAVCEI (the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior) created a Sub-Committee in March 1993 to consider procedures that could prevent, or at least reduce, the incidence of such disasters at active volcanoes.
The Sub-Committee considers that because IAVCEI is an international body for the promotion of the science of volcanoes and the mitigation of volcanic disasters, it cannot impose rigid regulations upon the conduct of individual volcanological researchers. However, IAVCEI can help ti minimise tghe possible loss of human life and reduce social damages by suggesting various safety measures backed by intensive discussion and by the compilation of available data. It is hoped that this advice will drastically reduce unnecessary disasters involving volcanologists as well as the general public.
Because of the limited time available, the discussions of the Sub-Committee were mainly through telefax and email exchanges between members and other interested participants. Initially the Sub-Committee collected existing documents pertinent to safety, and solicited opinions from specialists. The preliminary report of the Sub-Committee was presented at the IAVCEI General Assembly in Canberra, Australia, in September, 1993. The following report incorporates recommendations from discussions among the Sub-Committee members and from other discussions during the Canberra meeting.
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