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Volcanic fatalities database

Volcanic fatalities

Volcanoes produce a number of potentially lethal hazards over varying footprints, both in times of eruption and quiescence. Lives are regularly lost through volcanic activity, with fatalities recorded in 18 of the last 20 years, though major events in which hundreds or thousands die are relatively rare when compared with other natural hazards such as earthquakes and floods. Population growth is seeing ever-increasing numbers of people living near volcanoes, and increasingly more visitors are drawn to spectacular volcanic activity and landscapes.

Brown et al. (2017) produced an updated volcanic fatalities database, listing fatalities from 1500 to 2017, the volcano, their cause, the incident distance from the volcano, the number of fatalities and victim classification (e.g. tourist). They conducted analysis of the data, characterising volcanic threat with distance, as a function of eruption size and hazard type, and to understand how certain activities increase exposure and the likelihood of death. Their findings, and the publically accessible database, support assessment of volcanic threat, population exposure and vulnerabilities related to occupation or activity.

57 people lost their lives at Mount St. Helens in 1980. (C) Sarah Brown

57 people lost their lives at Mount St. Helens in 1980. (C) Sarah Brown

Data download and use

Version 1.0.  Volcanic fatalities database – Version 1.0.

The fatalities dataset is currently available as a spreadsheet free for download (above). This is the most recent version of the database.

Citation: For any formal citation of the fatalities database please cite Brown et al. (2017) and add the database version number used.

Versions: the fatalities database represents an evolution of several pre-existing datasets, including those held by the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program and Auker et al. (2013). For ease the updated and newly publically accessible database accompanying Brown et al. (2017) was designated Version 1.0. Minor updates, as new incidents occur for example, will result in changes to the second-level number (e.g. 1.1). Any database-wide changes or global update campaigns will result in top-level version number changes (e.g. to 2.0).

Past versions

Volcanic fatalities database – Version 1.0: Published with Brown et al. (2017)


This database is designed to be a sustainable resource and will be updated periodically to reflect relevant changes, new incidents and updates to the available data. We welcome any input on the database content and structure, data, queries or concerns. Please contact Sarah Brown.


Brown, S.K., Jenkins, S.F., Sparks, R.S.J., Odbert, H., Auker, M.R. (2017) Volcanic fatalities database: analysis of volcanic threat with distance and victim classification. Journal of Applied Volcanology, 6:15.

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