College of Science & Engineering

Volcano expert helps create Fuego crisis map

A leading volcanologist from the University's School of GeoSciences is working with authorities in Guatemala to produce a crisis hazard map in the wake of the Fuego volcano eruption.

The map will inform decisions on evacuation in the region, where dozens of people have died and many more are in danger.

The eruption, on Sunday 3 June, released a fast-moving avalanche of hot volcanic rock and ash – known as a pyroclastic flow – which killed people instantly.

The flow, moving at up to 60 miles an hour, hit nearby villages. It covered some houses in ash up to their roofs and buried others completely.

"The situation can be compared to a modern-day Pompeii; there has been loss of life and there are still hundreds of people unaccounted for."- Dr Eliza Calder School of Geosciences

Dr Eliza CalderSchool of Geosciences

Assessing risk

Dr Eliza Calder, a leading expert on hazard assessment, is putting into practice findings from her recent research on hazard maps.

Fuego is a persistently active volcano that has been producing small explosions on a daily basis for many years.

Its latest event, which came with very little warning, produced a column of ash rising 10 km into the atmosphere as well as pyroclastic flows.

Search and rescue operations are under way amid significant potential for further volcanic activity.

Local centres of population face a further threat as the rainy season gets under way, which may cause ash and volcanic boulders in the valley to be washed downstream in the form of volcanic mud flows

Dr Calder’s recent research was supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund.  

"Communities living very close to this active volcano have faced heightened risks, owing to the complex socio-political context of the country. This disaster is, in great part, a social construct. It’s devastatingly sad."- Dr Eliza CalderSchool of Geosciences

Dr Eliza CalderSchool of Geosciences