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  • Created 24 Nov 2015


Volcano observatories use a range of communication strategies to share information about changes in volcanic behaviour and potential hazards to stakeholders. Volcanic alert level systems (VALS) differ between countries, with some including only descriptions of the level of physical phenomena (e.g., differing criteria of volcanic unrest and size of eruption), while others include hazards, potential impacts, and risk mitigation actions (including evacuations). Some include forecasting, while others do not. Designing new VALS and evaluating or revising existing systems requires an understanding of these options. These processes benefit from being able to draw upon the experiences of others in similar situations, and the related theory of risk (and crisis) communication. With increasing levels of technology and communications methods (such as social networking), it is imperative that VALS used by volcano observatories around the world retain their credibility and trust, and work to serve legal, political, and local community requirements.

A key rationale for why this IAVCEI working group is becoming increasingly relevant is the rising number of nationally adopted VALS, as seen by the standardisation of VALS in the USGS in 2006, and the revision of New Zealand’s VALS in 2014, amongst others. In 2005 the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted the Aviation Colour Code, an internationally recognised, used, and increasingly enforced VALS. As a consequence, many observatories are now dealing with more than one VALS during a crisis. This working group supports volcanologists in their implementation and use of the Aviation Colour Code, including an investigation into what potential barriers there are.  It is a fitting time to share knowledge, experience and best practice so that all practitioners can benefit, particularly those who are devising new systems.

This working group helps to facilitate debate and discussion specifically on VALS. The committee consists of four key members who are coordinating discussions between scientists, practitioners, emergency managers, academics, and other interested stakeholders, including the public. We work closely with WOVO, within which our working group is located. 

Carina Fearnley -  University College London, UK

Sally Potter - GNS, New Zealand

Annie Winson - Kingston University, UK

Amy Donovan - Cambridge University, UK


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