Communication demands of volcanic ashfall events

Carol Stewart*, Thomas M. Wilson, Victoria Sword-Daniels, Kristi L. Wallace, Christina R. Magill, Claire J. Horwell, Graham S. Leonard, Peter J. Baxter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Volcanic ash is generated in explosive volcanic eruptions, dispersed by prevailing winds and may be deposited onto communities hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away. The wide geographic reach of ashfalls makes them the volcanic hazard most likely to affect the greatest numbers of people. However, forecasting how much ash will fall, where, and with what characteristics, is a major challenge. Varying social contexts, ashfall characteristics, and eruption durations create unique challenges in determining impacts, which are wide-ranging and often poorly understood. Consequently, a suite of communication strategies must be applied across a variety of different settings. Broadly speaking, the level of impact depends upon the amount of ash deposited and its characteristics (hazard), as well as the numbers and distribution of people and assets (exposure), and the ability of people and assets to cope with the ashfall (resilience and/or vulnerability). Greater knowledge of the likely impact can support mitigation actions, crisis planning, and emergency management activities. Careful, considered, and well-planned communication prior to, and during, a volcanic ashfall crisis can substantially reduce physical, economic and psychosocial impacts. We describe the factors contributing to the complex communication environment associated with ashfall hazards, describe currently available information products and tools, and reflect on lessons from a range of case-study ashfall events. We discuss currently-available communication tools for the key sectors of public health, agriculture and critical infrastructure, and information demands created by ash clean-up operations. We conclude with reflections on the particular challenges posed by long-term eruptions and implications for recovery after ashfall.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationObserving the volcano world
Subtitle of host publicationvolcano crisis communication
EditorsCarina J. Fearnley, Deanne K. Bird, Katharine Haynes, William J. McGuire, Gill Jolly
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783319440972
ISBN (Print)9783319440958
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameAdvances in Volcanology
ISSN (Print)2364-3277
ISSN (Electronic)2364-3285

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Information demands
  • Information resources
  • Societal impacts
  • Volcanic ashfalls

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Communication demands of volcanic ashfall events'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this