Scientists Compile Largest Database Of Major Volcanic Eruptions
January 18, 2013

Scientists Compile Largest Database Of Major Volcanic Eruptions

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Scientists have compiled a database detailing around 2,000 major volcanic eruptions that occurred over the last 18 million years. The open access database of Large Magnitude Explosive Eruptions (LaMEVE) will be able to provide crucial information to scientists and others involved in volcano research.

Volcanic eruptions have been known to cause disruptions in air traffic, impact climate, and alter surrounding landscapes. Gaining a better understanding of the behaviors of volcanoes could have great impacts in how to be better prepared for the next big eruption.

The LaMEVE database provides rapid, searchable access to information available for large volcanic eruptions of magnitude 4 or greater with a quantitive data quality score.

"Magnitude 4 or greater eruptions — such as Vesuvius in 79AD, Krakatoa in 1883 and Mount St Helens in 1980 — are typically responsible for the most loss of life in the historical period," Dr Sian Crosweller, from the Bristol's School of Earth Sciences with support from the British Geological Survey (BGS), said in a statement. "The database's restriction to eruptions of this size puts the emphasis on events whose low frequency and large hazard footprint mean preparation and response are often poor."

Currently, the database includes volcano magnitude, Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), deposit volumes, eruption dates, and rock type.

Researchers plan to expand the LaMEVE database, adding the principal volcanic hazards, and vulnerability.

LaMEVE is the first component of the Volcanic Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA) database for volcanic hazards developed as part of the Global Volcano Model (GVM).

"The long-term goal of this project is to have a global source of freely available information on volcanic hazards that can be used to develop protocols in the event of volcanic eruptions," Principal Investigator and co-author, Professor Stephen Sparks of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences said.

"Importantly, the scientific community [is] invited to actively participate with the database by sending new data and modifications to the database manager and, after being given clearance as a GVM user, entering data thereby maintaining the resource's dynamism and relevance," he added.

A paper about the new database was published in the Journal of Applied Volcanology.