Most people in the United States have difficulty comprehending the full impacts that are possible from volcanic events. For that reason, the USGS, volcanic hazards education efforts focus on engaging the public and public officials in narratives about volcanic impacts to communities similar to their own. By both personalizing the potential future volcanic risks and discussing the eruptive history, hazards, and vulnerabilities in their communities, residents gain the information and motivation required to become disaster resilient.
The foundation for a disaster-resilient community requires that people at risk be well informed about hazards and motivated to implement risk-reduction measures. People who have lived through a volcanic eruption, or other major natural hazard event, can connect with that memory and recognize the need for preparation. However, at volcanic regions in the U.S. other than Hawaiʻi and Alaska, the interval between eruptions often exceeds the lifespan and inter-generational memory of residents and emergency officials, making the opportunity to observe and learn rare. Therefore, the USGS VHP aims to make the impacts relatable by providing insight from communities in the U.S. and internationally that have experienced dramatic volcanic events.
USGS Volcano Hazards Program scientists work in partnership with leaders in vulnerable communities to provide the scientific basis necessary to develop emergency coordination plans. These long-standing partnerships between USGS, emergency managers and other government officials keep the lines of communication open—a necessity to reduce volcanic hazards risk, especially during an eruption or non-eruptive hazardous volcanic event (e.g. debris flow, lahar, or landslide).
Scientists use results of fundamental research to develop volcano hazard assessments, which become the foundation for hazards-education programs. These assessments help inform community emergency response plans, which support community preparedness efforts. The USGS Volcano Hazards Program participates in a FEMA certified Volcano Crisis Awareness courses in conjunction with the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. The five VHP Volcano Observatories engage in regionally specific outreach efforts to support community resilience via trainings, presentations, and partnerships necessary for grassroots preparedness and education efforts.
Educators in classrooms, community safety groups, and at home can play an important role in communicating fundamental information about volcanoes and hazards to people within their communities. The USGS VHP provides opportunities for educators to learn about volcanoes and volcanic hazards via summer teacher trainings, downloadable teacher resources, educational articles, and creative use of our various websites.