Scientific article
Open access

A fast GIS-based risk assessment for tephra fallout: the example of Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador. Part I: probabilistic hazard assessment

Published inNatural hazards, vol. 65, no. 1, p. 477-495
  • Open Access - Licence nationale Springer
Publication date2013

We present a comprehensive probabilistic hazard assessment for tephra fallout of Cotopaxi volcano (Ecuador), a quiescent but active stratovolcano known for its highly explosive behaviour. First, we developed a set of possible eruptive scenarios based on thorough field investigations, literature studies and using the Global Volcanism Program (GVP) database. Five eruption scenarios were identified, including two based on large prehistorical sub-Plinian/Plinian eruptions with eruptive parameters constrained from field investigations (One Eruption Scenario; OES) and three Eruption Range Scenarios (ERS) based on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) classification, for which eruptive parameters (i.e. erupted volume, plume height and median grainsize) were tochastically sampled within boundaries defined by VEI 3, 4 and 5. Second, the modelling was performed using the advection-diffusion model TEPHRA2 in combination with wind profiles from the NOAA NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 1 database. We performed 1,000 runs for each eruption scenario, stochastically sampling a wind profile (OES and ERS) and a set of eruptive parameters (ERS only) at each run. Using the conditional probabilities of occurrence of eruption of VEI 3, 4 and 5 calculated from the GVP catalogue, we assessed the probability of tephra accumulation in a given time window. Based on the GVP database, a simple Poisson model shows that an eruption of VEI C3 has a 36 % probability of occurrence in the next 10 years. Finally, the hazard assessment was compiled based on three different outputs, including (i) probability maps for a given tephra accumulation, (ii) isomass maps for a given probability value and (iii) hazard curves for a given location. We conclude that the area west of Cotopaxi is exposed to light to severe tephra fallout for the smallest eruption magnitude considered (i.e. VEI 3). This area comprises a main communication axis (Panamerican Highway) topographically constrained at the bottom of the Interandean Valley, as well as the capital Quito and the town of Latacunga. In a companion paper, Biass et al. (this volume) propose a method for a rapid risk assessment for tephra fallout using global and easily accessible data and the hazard assessment described here.

  • Volcanic hazard
  • Tephra
  • Probabilistic hazard assessment
  • Cotopaxi
  • Ecuador
Citation (ISO format)
BIASSE, Sébastien, BONADONNA, Costanza. A fast GIS-based risk assessment for tephra fallout: the example of Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador. Part I: probabilistic hazard assessment. In: Natural hazards, 2013, vol. 65, n° 1, p. 477–495. doi: 10.1007/s11069-012-0378-z
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0921-030X

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