Scientific article
Open access

A fast GIS-based risk assessment for tephra fallout: the example of Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador. Part II: vulnerability and risk assessment

Published inNatural Hazards, vol. 65, no. 1, p. 497-521
  • Open Access - Licence nationale Springer 
Publication date2013

In order to develop efficient strategies for risk mitigation and emergency management, planners require the assessment of both the expected hazard (frequency and magnitude) and the vulnerability of exposed elements. This paper presents a GIS-based methodology to produce qualitative to semi-qualitative thematic risk assessments for tephra fallout around explosive volcanoes, designed to operate with datasets of variable precision and resolution depending on data availability. Due to the constant increase in population density around volcanoes and to the wide dispersal of tephra from volcanic plumes, a large range of threats, such as roof collapses, damage to crops, blockage of vital lifelines and health problems, concern even remote communities. To address these issues, we have assessed the vulnerability and the risk levels for five themes relevant to tephra fallout: (1) social, (2) economic, (3) environmental, (4) physical and (5) territorial. Risk and vulnerability indices for each theme are averaged to the fourth level of administrative unit (parroquia, parish). In a companion paper, Biass and Bonadonna (this volume) present a probabilistic hazard assessment for tephra fallout at Cotopaxi volcano (Ecuador) using the advection-diffusion model TEPHRA2, which is based on field investigations and a global eruption database (Global Volcanism Program, GVP). The scope of this paper is to present a new approach to risk assessment specifically designed for tephra fallout, based on a comprehensive hazard assessment of Cotopaxi volcano. Our results show that an eruption of moderate magnitude (i.e. VEI 4) would result in the possible collapse of ∼9,000 houses in the two parishes located close to the volcano. Our study also reveals a high risk on agriculture, closely linked to the economic sector, and a possible accessibility problem in case of an eruption of any size, as tephra is likely to affect the only major road running from Quito to Latacunga (Panamerican Highway). As a result, this method fits into the ongoing effort to better characterize and evaluate volcanic risk, and more specifically the risk associated with tephra fallout. Although this methodology relies on some assumptions, it can serve as a rapid and efficient starting point for further investigations of the risk level around explosive volcanoes.

Citation (ISO format)
BIASSE, Sébastien, FRISCHKNECHT, Corine, BONADONNA, Costanza. A fast GIS-based risk assessment for tephra fallout: the example of Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador. Part II: vulnerability and risk assessment. In: Natural Hazards, 2013, vol. 65, n° 1, p. 497–521. doi: 10.1007/s11069-012-0457-1
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0921-030X

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