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London Lecture: Dangerous Neighbours

11 December 2017
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The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
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Improving how we understand and reduce risk for those who live alongside active volcanoes:

Volcanoes are fascinating but deadly, and humankind is as drawn to their resources and beauty as they are repelled by their inherent danger. Eruptions are capable of intense variations in the size and impacts of their activity, and volcanic crises can be protracted and debilitating for those who have to cope with them.

Volcanoes can pose a risk not just to life but also to the development of sustainable livelihoods for those who live around them.

To reduce these risks requires the integration of our geological knowledge of dynamics volcanic processes with analysis of the social, political and cultural landscape into which they erupt. Analyses of recent long-lived eruptions in the Caribbean and Ecuador, along with the recovery from the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia have identified drivers of both negative and positive changes to livelihoods during volcanic eruptions, and the role this has in exacerbating risk.

More importantly, considering the impacts of eruptions from the perspective of the populations affected most strongly by that activity has identified some important gaps in our scientific knowledge of volcanic behavior. Addressing these gaps has great promise for reducing future volcanic risks.


Jenni Barclay is a Professor of Volcanology at the University of the East Anglia and the Principle Investigator of the STREVA (Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas) Project, a large research project on whose results much of this talk is based.

Although her background is in geology (with a BSc from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of Bristol) her experience working for the Montserrat Volcano Observatory during the early stages of the volcanic crisis convinced her of the need for more integrated or interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of volcanic risk.

Since then she has developed her early interests in the application of petrology to understanding volcanic processes to include research methodologies relevant to the communication and reduction of volcanic risk. She also has research interests in the interaction between volcanic activity and other environmental processes.

She is currently a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Montserrat eruption.

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