IAVCEI represents the primary international focus for: (1) research in volcanology, (2) efforts to mitigate volcanic disasters, and (3) research into closely related disciplines, such as igneous geochemistry and petrology, geochronology, volcanogenic mineral deposits, and the physics of the generation and ascent of magmas in the upper mantle and crust.
IAVCEI is run by an Executive Committee whose membership changes every four years. The Executive determines policies for the Association, enacting them through a series of Commissions and TaskGroups. IAVCEI aims to be outward-looking, seeks relationships with other international scientific organisations, and participates in international scientific projects. It aims also to maintain a robust publishing policy, encouraging the presentation of high caliber, volcanological research results, mainly through its premier international journal the Bulletin of Volcanology.