Communication during volcanic emergencies. (ADD018).


This manual has been produced with the specific objective of providing clear and straightforward guidelines to ensure the effective communication of critical information during a volcanic crisis. The primary aim is to assist the key players - monitoring scientists, the Emergency Management Committee (or its equivalent), and the media, in improving mutual interaction through better understanding and appreciation of their respective agendas, expectations and limits.

The manual is divided into four parts. Part 1 provides a short introduction to volcanic behaviour. It is designed to familiarize nonspecialists with the nature of volcanic hazards in the Caribbean, with how volcanoes are monitored, and with the principal technical terms they will encounter during a volcanic crisis. Parts 2 to 4 are dedicated to communication, following the path of information flow during a crisis:

The monitoring scientists, who interpret the signals from the volcano and provide forecasts about future activity, hazard and risk.

The Emergency Management Committee, which transforms the scientists recommendations into instructions for emergency response.

The media, who have a vital role to play in the dissemination of emergency response information and warnings.

Each part is structured so as to specifically address its target group, but key players are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the content of all three parts.

Appendices provide additional practical information including: examples of alert systems, a glossary of specialist terms, tips for interviewees and for issuing press releases, and resource guides relating to Caribbean volcanism and hazard preparedness.

The information and responses upon which the manual is based were gathered through formal and informal interviews with representatives of the target groups, as well as with members of the public, on the islands of Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and St. Vincent. The guidelines and recommendations, however, are equally applicable to all volcanic islands in the Caribbean region. Regarding output, the key challenge has been in putting together a concise manual providing easily accessible information and examples of good practice in a nontechnical, 'user-friendly' format. We hope that we have succeeded, at least to some extent, but we welcome comments and suggestions for further improvement.

This manual can be downloaded in full colour or black and white (both 970 kb) PDF versions.


Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre. Communication during volcanic emergencies. (ADD018). (2003)

Published 1 January 2003