Global Volcano Model

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Earth Sciences


This project aims to develop a major international effort to create a Global Volcano Model (GVM) that provides systematic evidence, data and analysis of volcanic hazards and risk. The GVM project addresses hazards and risks on global, regional and local scales, and develops the capability to anticipate future volcanism and its consequences. The project builds on initiatives over the last several years to establish a global database of volcanic hazards (VOGRIPA) and to develop analysis and modelling tools to assess volcanic hazard and risk. The proposed GVM project also complements and interfaces with other major international initiatives, notably including the Global Volcanism Progamme of the Smithsonian Institution, WOVOdat (a database on precursors to volcanic eruptions), VHub (a US-led effort to develop an online collaborative environment for volcanology research and risk mitigation, including the development of more effective volcanic hazards models), the Volcano Observatory Best Practices Programme and the International Volcanic Health Hazards Network. The GVM project has parallels with the Global Earthquake Model in intention and scope of providing an authoritative source for assessing volcanic hazard and risk. There is a strong international consensus that GVM is an essential and timely undertaking. This project, which is within the natural hazards theme of NERC's strategy, provides a unique opportunity for the UK to play a leading role in a major international effort to address volcanic hazard and risk.
There are 50 or so volcanic eruptions a year worldwide with approximately 20 ongoing at any one time. Increased global volcanic risk derives from factors that are increasing exposure and vulnerability, such as population growth, environmental degradation, urbanization, inequality and increasing independencies in a globalised world. There is also a decrease in societal resilience arising from the way society is organized and the increasing complexities of systems required to respond to emergencies, especially where impacts extend beyond national boundaries.
The GVM project will develop an integrated global database system on volcanic hazards, vulnerability and exposure, make this globally accessible and crucially involve the international volcanological community and users in a partnership to design, develop, analyse and maintain the database system. The main hazards include: explosive eruptions, pyroclastic flows, lava domes, lava flows, lahars, tephra fall and ash dispersal, gas, flank collapse, debris flows and health hazards. New reliability indices and measures of uncertainty will be essential elements of the GVM. The GVM project will aim to establish new international metadata standards that will reduce ambiguity in the use of global volcanic datasets. Vulnerability and exposure data will be integrated into the GVM and again new methods of assessment and analysis will be investigated and tested. The integrated database system will be made available via an interactive web system with search engines using both spatial and text-based commands. The downloadable products (including maps, tables and text) and web system will be developed with end-users. Addition of data by users will be facilitated via an upload facility. New data or corrections will be validated by an editor before being incorporated.
The project also intends to establish methodologies for analysis of the evidence and data to inform risk assessment, to develop complementary volcanic hazards models, and create relevant hazards and risk assessment tools.
Only a very broad international interdisciplinary partnership that is closely aligned to the needs of users of research can meet all these ambitious objectives. The research will provide the scientific basis for mitigation strategies, responses to ash in the atmosphere for the aviation industry, land-use planning, evacuation plans and management of volcanic emergencies.

Planned Impact

The Director of UN ISDR (project supporter) has commented that there is no global knowledge platform for volcanism and volcanic hazard. Such a platform is urgently needed in the light of the Iceland ash crisis (the cost to Europe is estimated to be over 5 billion US$ according to Oxford Economics) and recent eruptions like Merapi, Indonesia (fatalities number at least 350 and over 40,000 evacuees). The Eyjafjallajökull ash crisis event has alerted the insurance and aviation industries to the impact of even small volcanic eruptions on their business. Willis Re and Munich Re (project partners) have indicated the need for a 'Global Volcano Model' (GVM), comparable to the Global Earthquake Model that they already strongly support and we're in discussion with the aviation industry. The World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery programme will find the outcomes useful and we're liaising through an existing project and informal contacts.
The aim of the proposed GVM is to develop an integrated database system and the methods of analysis and models of hazard and risk required for such a model with international partners and end-users. A major objective of GVM will be to make the database system and analysis methods accessible to end users. The GVM project will process the raw data into forms that are useful (end-user defined), such as charts, maps, algorithms, statistical syntheses, and explanatory text, making them available via the web.
The database system of volcanic hazards and vulnerability can be analysed to identify locations at high risk, gaps in knowledge about risk, and will allow scientists and disaster managers at specific locations to analyse local/regional risk within a global context of systematic information. Volcanic hazards data can be used to develop better empirical models of hazards and to improve numerical models of hazardous processes (both defined by the ICAO Task Force as priorities after the Eyjafjallajökull ash crisis).
Volcano observatories and Scientific Advisory Groups are the main end-users of such data. Many GVM partners have responsibility for both volcano observatories and research and others are also both researchers and end-users thus ensuring a thorough integration of research and impact (eg Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, New Zealand, Willis). We have engaged with the World Organisation of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) which deals with 74 observatories (see support letter).
The GVM project will link with five major international initiatives that have recently started (see Case for Support). 1) VOGRIPA was initiated as part of the GRIP (Global Risk Identification Programme) in 2004 under the auspices of the World Bank and UN. It is being led and co-ordinated by Professor Sparks at Bristol. 2) WOVOdat aims to create a database of precursors to volcanic eruptions and is led by Earth Observatory of Singapore. 3) VHub is an online platform for modeling and collaboration in volcanology and associated risk mitigation (see led by New York University at Buffalo. 4) The Volcano Observatory Best Practices Workshop programme is a new initiative developed under the auspices of WOVO. 5) The International Volcanic Health Hazards Network led by Durham University. In addition, the Geological Survey of Japan has a database of Quaternary eruptions in Japan which supports VOGRIPA and will support GVM. Geological and Nuclear Sciences New Zealand are leading the New Zealand Natural Hazards Research Platform which includes developing databases on volcanic hazard, vulnerability and risk, studies of social impacts and developing hazards analysis tools and assessing volcanic risk in Auckland. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a detailed database of volcanic eruptions from mainland Alaska and the Aleutians which will also be made available.
Description This is development of a network not a research project so the question is not framed appropriately in terms of nature of grant
Exploitation Route Many non-academic uses are being found for work of GVM in insurance sector and international agencies like World Bank and UN. GVM has been commissioned to deliver a global assessment of volcanic hazard and risk by UN ISDR for the 2015 Global Assessment Report (GAR15).
Sectors Environment

Description Informed UN ISDR about global volcanic risk for first time
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact It is not possible to describe the impacts in quantitative terms. The work involved the first ever global assessment of volcanic risk in a DRR context and has contributed to the UN ISDR assessment that informed the Sendai framework. The work includes best practice on volcanic risk assessment, hazard assessment and early warning for volcanic eruptions and so will contribute to quality of life as well as protecting life and assets.
Description Funding with insurance sector
Amount $60,000 (USD)
Organisation Munich Re and Willis Network 
Sector Private
Country Germany
Description Global Volcano Model 
Organisation Global Volcano Model
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Bristol University (School of Earth Sciences) and British Geological Survey developed a network of 33 partner institutions across the GVM network.
Collaborator Contribution They contributed to work GVM and notably the first ever assessment of global volcanic risk of UN ISDR.
Impact The publications are already listed
Start Year 2011
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We made 14 films funded by World bank and DfID but part of GVM. the film project originated from GVM. The films have been translated into 6 different languages and have had at least 2.5 viewings. The relevance to the TURCVOLC project is that all these films have been translated into the Turkish language and are being used by MTA our partners for outreach and public information. Note that the translation of the public information films happened late in the project so we do not yet have any information about the use and response of officials and the public. However, some of the films were shown to AFAD (the national civil protection organization of Turkey) and were considered extremely helpful in informing AFAD staff about the nature of volcanic hazards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019,2020
Description UN ISDR and Sendai DRR conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact GVM produced 4 background papers on Volcanic Risk for the Global Assessment Report of UN ISDR on DRR in preparation for the Sendai intergovernmental meeting on that established the new Sendai Framework. The Volcanic risk papers were integrated into the 2015 assessment report of UN ISDR (GAR15) and presented at the Sendai conference in a side event. The background papers were converted into an open access e-book with Cambridge University Press (see
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015