Despite volcanic risk having been defined quantitatively more than 30 years ago, this risk has been managed without being effectively measured. The recent substantial progress in quantifying eruption probability paves the way for a new era of rational science-based volcano risk management, based on what may be termed "volcanic risk metrics" (VRM). In this paper, we propose the basic principles of VRM, based on coupling probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment and eruption forecasting with cost-benefit analysis. The VRM strategy has the potential to rationalize decision making across a broad spectrum of volcanological questions. When should the call for evacuation be made? What early preparations should be made for a volcano crisis? Is it worthwhile waiting longer? What areas should be covered by an emergency plan? During unrest, what areas of a large volcanic field or caldera should be evacuated, and when? The VRM strategy has the paramount advantage of providing a set of quantitative and transparent rules that can be established well in advance of a crisis, optimizing and clarifying decision-making procedures. It enables volcanologists to apply all their scientific knowledge and observational information to assist authorities in quantifying the positive and negative risk implications of any decision. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
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