Cascades Volcano Observatory

Communication About Volcanic Hazards

Mount Rainier is the backdrop for Eatonville, Washington....

Mount Rainier is the backdrop for Eatonville, Washington. (Credit: Driedger, Carolyn. Public domain.)

Effective communication is critical both while volcanoes are quiet and during unrest.

Under the Stafford Act of 1974, the US Geological Survey holds a mandate to provide warnings of volcanic activity, and to communicate that information. On a regular basis, USGS-CVO scientists communicate with federal, state and local officials, the media and public about the status of Cascade volcanoes during volcanic quiescence and heightened unrest. The communication process begins when results of scientific research are applied to development of USGS Volcano Hazard Assessments. These assessments become the basis for community emergency response plans, which in turn support community preparedness efforts. Response plans are available on state and county emergency management websites. A volcano threat assessment and ranking updated in 2018 shows relative threat levels of volcanoes within US territory.

Educators hiking at Mount Rainier with CVO and NPS staff during a t...

Educators hiking at Mount Rainier with CVO and NPS staff during a training at Mount Rainier, Washington (Credit: Westby, Liz. Public domain.)

Volcano status is available to officials and the public.

CVO uses the USGS Volcano Alert Level System to rate the status of a volcano's activity. The resulting Volcano Activity Alerts inform people about any issued advisories, watches, warnings, and specific forecasts concerning eruptions. When possible, the updates provide information about potential impacts. Anyone can register to receive regular updates via the Volcano Notification System (VNS). Current events and information about ongoing research are updated regularly in the News section of the CVO home page.

Living with a Volcano in Your Backyard Outreach Program supports community resilience.

USGS-CVO's Living with a volcano in your back yard outreach plan supports community resilience by providing information in a variety of forms, trainings, and partnerships necessary for grassroots preparedness and education efforts. The focus is on information distributers, such as public officials, educators, park interpreters, business and industry, the media, and the interested public. To learn more, visit the EducationMedia NewsroomPreparedness, and Get Involved webpages.