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2019: Volcano Observatories Best Practices Workshop (VOBP4)


Volcano Observatories Best Practices Workshop (VOBP4), Mexico City – From 18 to 23 November 2019, about 90 participants from 26 countries attended this fourth in a series of meetings, first started in 2011. In contrast to the previous VOBP meetings, which focused on eruption forecasting, hazard communication, and long-term hazard assessment (, VOBP4 focused on Volcano Observatory Crisis Operations. The meeting involved four intensive days of presentations, moderated panels, and discussions on this topic among the leaders of the world’s volcano observatories.

Presenters at VOBP4 were asked to share their experiences with crisis operations as they answered three main questions: 1) Which of your actions have been key to successes in your crisis responses? 2) Were there any actions that you forgot/now wish you had taken and what would you do differently, now that you can look back at your actions? 3) If you were to choose just three lessons that you’d like the rest of the participants to take home and consider as the basis for best-practice recommendations, what would they be? Through synthesis and discussion sessions, rapporteurs compiled notes that were used to catalog key lessons and best practices.  Volunteers among the meeting participants are currently writing a journal article that summarizes the generated ideas.

The fifth day at VOBP4 was spent on a field trip to Popocatépetl, one of two very active volcanoes in Mexico. Popocatépetl poses significant hazards to major population centers around Mexico City and ash from the volcano has repeatedly affected nearby communities as well as operation of the Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City. Participants learned about the hazards and communities at risk and also toured CENAPRED’s volcano observatory to learn about volcano monitoring and crisis operations in Mexico.

The VOBP4 meeting was conducted under the aegis of IAVCEI and EUROVOLC and was hosted by CENAPRED, who also provided abundant logistical support. Travel funds and additional financial and logistical support was provided by the USGS+USAID Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) and Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), as well as numerous volcano observatories around the world who supported participation in the meeting by their staff. VOBP5 will be held in Pucón, Chile and will be hosted by SERNAGEOMIN (date to be decided).

Meeting organizers:
Paolo Papale and Laura Sandri (INGV)
John Pallister and Jake Lowenstern (USGS)
Ramón Espinasa (CENAPRED)