Volcanic Threat in Central America

By Jose L. Palma

Universidad de Concepción, Chile

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(Presented at AGU Fall Meeting in 2008)

This presentation shows an assessment of the volcanic threat posed by the 23 most active and best documented volcanoes in Central America. It also includes a preliminary evaluation for all volcanoes in Guatemala. The results are compared to the threat posed by 10 high and very high threat volcanoes of the United States. The methodology used for the quantification of volcanic threat is based on the score system developed by Ewert et al. (2005, 2007) as part of the Framework for a National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS) in the United States.

Volcanic Threat results:

1) Based on the threat groups defined in NVEWS, in Central America at least 22 volcanoes classify as Very High Threat volcanoes.

2) Among volcanoes with similar threat score, the exposure score in Central American volcanoes is generally higher than in U.S. volcanoes.

3) One of the main difficulties in completing the dataset is the lack of information about past activity and volcanic unrest for Central American volcanoes. Using indirect sources of information the dataset was completed for all volcanoes in Guatemala.

Comparison of the vulnerabilities to volcanic hazards between countries has been analyzed in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) and population density around volcanoes. The vulnerability to volcanic events of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala is greater than that of Costa Rica, and much greater than the vulnerability in the United States.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Jose L. Palma (2013), "Volcanic Threat in Central America," https://vhub.org/resources/2440.

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