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Volcanic Ash Hazard


Adele Bear-Crozier, GeoScience Australia

Susanna Jenkins, University of Bristol, UK


Gabriel Bernal, CIMNE Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain

Costanza Bonadonna, Université de Genève, Switzerland

Antonio Costa, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy

Christina Magill, Risk Frontiers, Australia

Victoria Miller, GeoScience Australia

Christina Neal, U.S. Geological Survey, USA

Chris Newhall, WOVOdat and Earth Observatory of Singapore

Patrick Whelley, Earth Observatory of Singapore

Volcanic ash is one of the farthest reaching volcanic hazards; ash produced by large magnitude explosive eruptions has the potential to affect areas hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometres from source. Quantifying the hazard from ash is a challenge because both eruption characteristics and winds are highly variable.

The Global Volcano Model (GVM) aims to provide regional and global information on volcanic hazard that can be used in developing useful hazard and risk assessment tools. With this in mind, we have established a Volcanic Ash Hazard Task force as part of GVM. This group will promote probabilistic methods in ash modelling and global assessment of ash hazard and risk and is linked with the IAVCEI Commission on Tephra Hazard Modelling ( . The first and foremost objective of the group will be to carry out an assessment of volcanic ash hazard for the UN ISDR 2015 Global Assessment Report. Specific tasks that will contribute to the Report, at regional and global scales, include:

  • Statistical modelling of volcano eruption frequency-magnitude relationships;
  • Identification and visualisation of predominant wind conditions (direction and speed) using re-analysis data;
  • Regional ash fall hazard assessment for all countries in the Asia-Pacific using a statistical emulator underpinned by computational ash dispersal modelling (Bear-Crozier et al, 2012);
  • Global ash fall hazard assessment at relatively high resolution (less than 10 km2) using a numerical ash dispersal model (following the method of Jenkins et al., 2012).

Further studies will be incorporated if time and funding allow, in particular a needs assessment for moving volcanic ash hazard forward globally. We also recognise that this is a topic with a great deal of activity around the world and so we would like to keep track of other work and initiatives on ash hazard: we invite relevant active research groups or individuals to get in touch using the link below.

Additional and complementary studies will look to develop building damage vulnerability curves for ash fall in the Asia-Pacific and preliminary vulnerability estimates for agricultural and critical infrastructure to ash fall globally.


Susanna Jenkins (

Adele Bear Crozier (

Some relevant references:

Bear-Crozier, A. N., Kartadinata, N., Heriwaseso, A., Nielsen, O., 2012. Development of python-FALL3D: a modified procedure for modelling volcanic ash dispersal in the Asia-Pacific region. Natural Hazards, 64(1): 821-838.

Hoblitt, R.P., and Scott, W.E., 2011, Estimate of tephra accumulation probabilities for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1064, 15 pp.

Jenkins, S., Magill, C., McAneney, J. and Blong, R., 2012. Regional ash fall hazard I: A probabilistic assessment methodology. Bulletin of Volcanology, 74(7): 1699-1712.

Schwaiger, H. F., R. P. Denlinger, and L. G. Mastin (2012), Ash3d: A finite-volume, conservative numerical model for ash transport and tephra deposition, J. Geophys. Res., 117(B4), B04204.

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