The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) works to reduce loss of life and property, limit economic impact, and prevent volcanic crises from becoming disasters. A VDAP response is initiated by an invitation for assistance, primarily from developing nations with substantial volcano hazards. VDAP responds during crises and provides assistance prior to crises to build in-country capabilities that help developing countries manage their volcanic activity. VDAP is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the USGS.
A VDAP crisis response begins with consultation with in-country colleagues, a rapid hazard assessment of the volcanically threatened area, and activation of available remote sensing resources. If a local seismic network is not available, the regional seismic network may be used to detect unrest while a local network is installed. Forecasts are made using the volcano's history, data collected during the current unrest, and the VDAP team's knowledge of eruptive activity worldwide. VDAP discusses all findings with the host country's volcano hazard agency, which is the leader of the response. See map for a list of VDAP responses since 1987.
Since it is much better to prepare than repair, between crises, VDAP helps to build capacity by providing monitoring equipment and education about hazards, monitoring, and crisis response. VDAP helps host countries build volcano-monitoring networks, assess and better understand volcanic hazards, and prepare for future volcano crises. When requested and appropriate, VDAP and USGS can serve as external advisors to other governments as they seek to improve their volcanic hazard risk-reduction programs.
VDAP provides workshops and on-the-job training at sites around the world to share monitoring techniques with other observatories. Workshops typically focus on one or two monitoring techniques for the area. VDAP also supports the annual volcano monitoring course of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanism (CSAV) at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.
Through funding from the USGS Volcano Hazards Program, VDAP supports collaborative projects with international partners to improve eruption forecasting and the understanding of volcanic processes and hazards in collaboration with local scientists. Examples include joint work by PHIVOLCS, USGS and others at Pinatubo and ongoing research at Chaitén Volcano, Chile.