Living at the edge of an active volcano: Risk from lava flows on Mount Etna

November 25, 2019

Boulder, Colo., USA: On Mt. Etna volcano, inhabited areas have been inundated repeatedly by lava flows in historical times. The increasing exposure of a larger population, which has almost tripled in the area around Mt. Etna during the last 150 years, has resulted from on a poor assessment of the volcanic hazard and risk, allowing inappropriate land use in vulnerable areas. Thus, the researchers of the Laboratory of Technologies for Volcanology (TecnoLab) at the INGV in Catania assessed and mapped hazard, exposure, and risk for providing a basic broad overview of the potential effusive eruption impacts on the flanks of Mt. Etna.

Despite our knowledge of volcanic hazards and our capability to monitor volcanic activity, the possibility that effusive eruptions of Etna volcano could harm people, properties and services is greater today than ever before. A 2013 analysis of lava flow hazards and their distribution around the Etna volcano showed them to be far more dangerous than previously expected. There is no compelling evidence to think that rates and magnitudes of volcanism are changing, but, as a consequence of rising population densities, increasingly sophisticated facilities, and expanding complex social and economic infrastructure, all communities around Mt. Etna are becoming more vulnerable to experiencing heavy consequences from volcanic hazard activity.

The researchers of the TecnoLab assessed the lava flow risk on the flanks of Mt. Etna by using a GIS-based approach that combines simply the hazard with the exposure of elements at stake (the vulnerability was not considered). The hazard, showing the long-term probability related to lava flow inundation, was obtained by combining three different kinds of information: the spatiotemporal probability of the future opening of new flank eruptive vents, the event probability associated with classes of expected eruptions, and the overlapping of lava flow paths simulated by the MAGFLOW model. Data including all exposed elements were gathered from institutional web portals and high-resolution satellite imagery, and organized in four thematic layers: population, buildings, service networks, and land use. The total exposure is given by a weighted linear combination of the four thematic layers, where weights are calculated using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP).

The resulting risk map shows the likely damage caused by a lava flow eruption, allowing rapid visualization of the areas in which there would be the greatest losses if a flank eruption occurred on Mt. Etna. The highest hazard levels were obtained within the uninhabited Valle del Bove and along the upper portions of the South and North-East Rifts. Instead, higher exposure levels were found near the eastern coast where the population is highly concentrated and, as a consequence, there are wider urban areas and critical infrastructures. By combining the location of the main population centers on Etna with those where the hazard is high, we identified the south-eastern flank as the sector with the highest overall level of risk due to effusive eruptions from vents located on the volcano flanks.
-end-
FEATURED ARTICLE

Living at the edge of an active volcano: Risk from lava flows on Mt. Etna

Ciro del Negro and colleagues, https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/gsabulletin/article/doi/10.1130/B35290.1/575769/Living-at-the-edge-of-an-active-volcano-Risk-from

GSA BULLETIN articles published ahead of print are online at http://bulletin.geoscienceworld.org/content/early/recent. Representatives of the media may obtain complimentary copies of articles by contacting Kea Giles. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please make reference to The Geological Society of America Bulletin in articles published. Non-media requests for articles may be directed to GSA Sales and Service, gsaservice@geosociety.org.

http://www.geosociety.org

Geological Society of America

Related Lava Flows Articles from Brightsurf:

Supersonic winds, rocky rains forecasted on lava planet
Among the most extreme planets discovered beyond the edges of our solar system are lava planets: fiery hot worlds that circle so close to their host star that some regions are likely oceans of molten lava.

Wildfires can cause dangerous debris flows
Wildfires don't stop being dangerous after the flames go out.

Lava tubes on Mars and the Moon are so wide they can host planetary bases
Researchers at the Universities of Bologna and Padua studied the subsurface cavities that lava created underground on Mars and the Moon.

Mars: Where mud flows like lava
An international research team including recreated martian conditions in a low-pressure chamber to observe the flow of mud.

Mystery of lava-like flows on Mars solved by scientists
The mystery of some lava-like flows on Mars has been solved by scientists who say they are caused not by lava but by mud.

Stresses and flows in ultra-cold superfluids
Yvan Buggy and his co-workers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, have developed a mathematical model of the flow of ultra-cold lsuperfluids, showing how they deform when they encounter impurities.

Blood flows could be more turbulent than previously expected
Blood flow in the human body is assumed to be mostly smooth and non-turbulent.

Lava flows tell 600-year story of biodiversity loss on tropical island
A natural experiment created by an active volcano gives new insight into the long-term negative impacts of human colonization of tropical forest islands.

Sediment loading key to predicting post-wildfire debris flows
The mudslides that follow wildfires in Southern California can be deadly and difficult to predict.

Emerging organic contaminant levels greatly influenced by stream flows, seasons
Flow rates and time of year must be taken into account to better understand the potential risks posed by emerging organic contaminants in rivers and streams, according to Penn State researchers who studied contaminant concentrations and flow characteristics at six locations near drinking water intakes in the Susquehanna River basin.

Read More: Lava Flows News and Lava Flows Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.