Explosive volcanic eruptions above subduction zones are rare but extreme events that can generate social and environmental impacts of large magnitude, at local or global scales. The extent of the damages they cause is amplified by our ignorance in interpreting precursors and in anticipating the eruptive phenomenology. Recent advances in earth sciences open new avenues for identifying precursory timescales and to progress toward “volcanic early warning” tools that could yield a more robust system of volcanic risk management and increase community resilience.
The V-CARE project will tackle that challenge by integrating several approaches, from the research on magmatic timescales to the development of decision-making tools and to the study of the potential impact of these warning tools on the institutional decision processes and on the population. To reach that goal, the project is structured into three tasks:
• The first task is dedicated to earth sciences. It aims at understanding magma reservoir dynamics and at identifying magmatic timescales that relate the remobilization of magma at depth and the precursors at the surface. It combines a physical modeling of convection in two-phase flow systems to petrological constraints and geophysical signals collected on monitoring networks.
• The second task brings together researchers from earth sciences and from human and social sciences (namely geography, psychology, political sciences and sociology). It aims at assembling what we call an “early warning clock”. We will all work together at the definition of new indicators and scenarios and at their introduction into the existing expertise process, paying a particular attention to uncertainties.
• The third task aims at exploring the effects of this new “early warning clock” on decision-making. Because the timescales are expected to be longer than what they are for hazards such as hurricanes (rather months than days), new questions arise. Sociologists will address how public authorities can govern during a long latency period and what changes it entails for prevention and adaptation. Psychologists and geographers will attempt to evaluate the psychological effects on populations of such a very early warning and to estimate possible counter-productive outcomes in order to improve communities resilience.
To ensure the operational relevance of this research, we will work with a “committee of users” composed of professionals of crisis management and of risk prevention.
The first task requires us to work on several fields: Montagne Pelée (Martinique), Santorini (Greece) and Bezymianny and Kizimen (Kamchatka, Russia), these latest being active and monitored. The entire chain of risk will be investigated on Martinique, an exemplary field that share common traits with all the others: insularity, distance from the main land, model of governance that articulates national and local level.
The expected results of the project are (1) constraints on the time left before the onset of an eruption, (2) validation of the result by comparison with monitored volcanoes, (3) spatio-temporal dynamic architecture of the plumbing system, (4) new indicators and scenarios for volcanic risk management and (5) a better understanding of institutional and personal decision-making processes during crisis with long latency periods, and updated scenarios and plans for crisis management co-defined with operational actors.
The methodology developed in the project will be a benchmark for application to other areas. The results will be shared all along with a “committee of users” and also made public at a final meeting in Martinique in the presence of local stakeholders (prefecture, town halls, associations, population, media). They will be disseminated in the academic literature, through the French platform for disaster risk reduction (AFPCN) to reach risk professionals and through the “Volcanologie Physique” FUN MOOC to reach a more general public.