Highlighted VDAP Responses

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.

Examples of responses include assistance to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) during the reawakening and subsequent eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, and assistance to the Instituto Colombiano de Geologìa y Minerìa (INGEOMINAS) in support of their response to the eruption of Nevado del Huila in 2007-2008.

  • Pyroclastic flow deposits filling valleys on the west flank of Pinatubo, which is erupting in the background. Pinatubo, Philippines

    The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was the second largest eruption of the 20th Century, about 10 times larger than Mount St. Helens in 1980. Using tools and techniques developed at Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes in the 1980s, a combined PHIVOLCS/VDAP team was able to accurately forecast the eruption and issue warnings that resulted in evacuation of people and property out of harm’s way. Five years after its founding, the VDAP concept was fully validated through savings of tens of thousands of lives that resulted from the joint PHIVOLCS-VDAP response to a catastrophic eruption.

  • Small ash plume from pyroclastic flow near the summit of Merapi, 2006. Valley in the foreground was swept by pyroclastic flows earlier in the year, killing three. Merapi, Indonesia

    Merapi is one of the world’s most hazardous volcanoes. In 2006, VDAP sent a team to assist the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geologic Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) during the eruption of Merapi, which directly threatened more than 100,000 people living nearby. VDAP also provided a technical advisor to the OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that was sent to the area following the M 6.3 Yogykarta earthquake. The earthquake took place during the eruption and killed more than 5,700. The VDAP team again assisted CVGHM during the much larger eruption of Merapi in 2010, by providing monitoring equipment and remote sensing information about conditions at the summit, which contributed to decisions by CVGHM that saved more than 10,000 lives.

  • Steam plume from the ice-clad Huila volcano. Nevado del Huila, Colombia

    In 2007 and 2008 VDAP worked closely with the INGEOMINAS volcano observatory in Popayan to monitor and forecast activity at Nevado del Huila volcano. On November 20th, 2008, following a period of escalating unrest of several weeks, Huila erupted and generated a large debris flow. Owing to accurate forecasting and good communication with downstream communities, fewer than 10 casualties occurred in the region.

  • Chaitén erupting. Chaitén, Chile

    On May 2nd, 2008, Chaitén volcano suddenly re-activated after an extended period of dormancy. An entire town of about 5000 people was evacuated within 48 hours of the eruption onset. Soon after, a VDAP team joined the rapid response team of the Chilean Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN). Together, they installed the first radio-telemetered monitoring instruments at Chaitén. The SERNAGEOMIN - VDAP response to the eruption led to a new emphasis on volcano hazard risk mitigation and real-time volcano monitoring in Chile. SERNAGEOMIN developed an expanded national volcano hazard monitoring and hazard assessment program, the Red Nacional de Vigilancia Volcánica (RNVV), which is based on the US National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS). The Chilean RNVV is now being implemented by SERNAGEOMIN and the Government of Chile.