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 VolFilm: multilingual and multi-platform films for increasing resilience to risks from volcanic hazards

Plymouth, Montserrat. (C) Tom Sheldrake

Plymouth, Montserrat. (C) Tom Sheldrake

Tab through to learn about the project and who we are.

Many volcanoes erupt infrequently, and several recent eruptions have occurred at volcanoes with no historic record of eruptions or none in living memory. Communities near such volcanoes have increased vulnerability due to their inexperience of volcanic hazards, lack of preparedness and often poor knowledge of volcanic hazards and risk. Such communities and their emergency managers and decision makers need education and information about the behaviour of volcanoes, their hazards and risk, as well as management and mitigation steps they can adopt to increase their resilience. Film is a very effective tool for communicating knowledge about volcanic hazards and risk. Two videos were produced about 20 years ago by IAVCEI, which were used among populations, authorities and volcano observatories for education purposes, and likely saved many thousands of lives. These have been excellent resources for the past 20 years, but technology has progressed, and developments have been made in understanding volcanic hazards and communicating science. There is therefore a need for updated film media and consideration of new, popular and widely used communication platforms such as the internet and mobile phones. VOLFilm is addressing this need.

VolFilm comprises volcanologists from a number of institutions within GVM working with Aspect Film and Video to develop multilingual and multi-platform films for resilience to risks from volcanic hazards in areas with no experience of volcanic eruptions in living memory.

VolFilm is funded through the Challenge Fund: a partnership between the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Phase 1 of the project saw the development of short educational films on pyroclastic flows and lahars, as these are historically responsible for the greatest loss of lives in volcanic eruptions. These films are created using a modular approach, meaning they can be watched individually or bolted together into longer films relevant to specific volcanic or societal settings. The films are short, and explore the hazards and separately the impacts. In Phase 1 we have also developed a short human experience film on the lahars of Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia, in 1985. STREVA kindly permitted the use of footage from “Nevado del Ruiz: Remembering 1985″ for this trial film. This human experience film, and those to be developed in Phase 2, will provide insight into the experiences of those who have lived through volcanic emergencies.

Phase 2 of the project will see the creation of further hazard and impact films on ash fall, lava flows and volcanic gas, and additional human experience films set in several locations.

Steve Sparks and Sarah K. Brown (University of Bristol, UK)

Jenni Barclay (University of East Anglia, UK)

Anna Hicks (British Geological Survey; University of East Anglia, UK)

Carolyn Driedger, John Pallister & Elizabeth Westby (U.S. Geological Survey, U.S.A)

Esline Garaebiti (Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory, Vanuatu)

Gill Jolly & Julian Thomson (GNS Science, New Zealand)

Katcho Karume (Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Republique Democratique du Congo)

Jean-Christophe Komorowski (Institut Physique du Globe de Paris, France)

Richie Robertson & Stacey Selman-Edwards (Seismic Research Centre, Trinidad and Tobago)

Iain Stewart (University of Plymouth, UK)

Aspect Film and Video, Bristol, UK


Special thanks to:

Mathieu Rousseau, Katia and Maurice Krafft Collection, Images de Volcans, Centre Image Lorraine, France.

STREVA and all of their Colombian interviewees who gave their time to share their experiences.

Julia Eychenne, Irving Munguia Gonzalez, Alison Rust, Gilles Seropian, and Claudio Contreras for their translation skills.

Footage was kindly donated or provided at much reduced costs for the project from the following sources. We are very grateful to all.


Sandy Budi Wibowo

Gustavo Chigna, Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meterología e Hidrología, Guatemala

Getty Images

GNS Science, New Zealand

Instituto Geofísico del Perú, Peru

Katia and Maurice Krafft, Centre Image Lorraine

David Lea, Living Letters Productions

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan

NHNZ Moving Images

James Reynolds, Earth Uncut TV

Martin Rietze

Richard Roscoe, Photovolcanica



Imanuel Susanto

Marc Szeglat,

U.S. Geological Survey, USA

Lintar Yogi

York Museums Trust



Find out who to contact in your area and what you can do to reduce the impacts of volcanoes on your life and livelihood.

Find your local observatory here!

The list is provided in alphabetical order by country. This is not an exhaustive list and will be updated: please let us know if your local observatory is missing.

Australia: Geoscience Australia:
Cape Verde:
Canada: Natural Resources Canada:
Chile: Servicio Nacional de Geologia y Mineria:
Colombia: Servicio Geologico Colombiano:
Costa Rica: Observatorio Vulcanologico y sismologico de Costa Rica:
Democratic Republic of Congo: Goma Volcano Observatory:
Ecuador: Instituto Geofisico: Escuela Politecnica Nacional:
El Salvador: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, El Salvador:
France: Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France:
Greece: Institute for the study and monitoring of the Santorini volcano (ISMOSAV):
Guadeloupe: Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Guadeloupe:
Guatemala: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia, Guatemala:
Iceland: Icelandic Met Office:
Indonesia: CVGHM:
Italy: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia:
Japan: Japan Meteorological Agency:
Japan: Geological Survey of Japan:
Martinique: Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Martinique:
Montserrat: Montserrat Volcano Observatory:
New Zealand: GNS Science:
Nicaragua: Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER):
Philippines: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology:
Reunion: Piton de la Fournaise:
Russia: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team, Russia:
USA: Alaska Volcano Observatory:
USA: California Volcano Observatory:
USA: Cascades Volcano Observatory:
USA: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:
USA: Yellowstone Volcano Observatory:
Vanuatu: Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory:
West Indies: Seismic Research Centre, University of the West Indies:

Many people live alongside volcanoes. It is possible to take steps to help protect yourself and minimise disruption.

- Learn about the hazards you might face: watch our films and check out the links to educational resources and your local observatories. Ask local authorities about the hazards in your area.
- Follow advice from the authorities: emergency managers, the emergency services, scientists and local authorities will endeavour to provide advice in the event of volcanic activity. This may be to remain at home, evacuate, or avoid certain areas or activities. All advice will be aimed at keeping you and your community safe with the least disruption and fewest losses. If you can, attend community meetings and listen for updates via the radio and television.
- Develop and practice evacuation plans: You may be required to leave your house rapidly, so plan in advance for what you need to take with you, who might need help, whether you need to take or tend to pets and livestock, and what route to take. Understand that it might not always be possible to leave by road, as roads may become blocked or damaged. Ask local and regional emergency services, authorities and schools if there are evacuation plans in place and for advice on planning your own.
- Prepare an emergency kit: You may be advised to shelter at home and may not be able to access shops or services for a time. Prepare a kit containing enough water, food (ready-to-eat) and medical supplies to last several days.

The steps you take now can help you in the event of many different hazards you may be exposed to.

USGS Volcano Hazards Program:
Volcano Disaster Assistance Program:
Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program:
Global Volcano Model’s Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions Database (LaMEVE):

Prepare a disaster supplies kit:

Eruption- what to do:

Volcanic ash- what can I do?: (be sure to check out their tabs aimed at households, businesses and communities)

Ash impact posters and advice:


If you would like to ask a question, leave feedback, provide footage or anything else, please email Sarah Brown.

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