There will be some indication that a volcano may erupt, but the time between the earliest indications of unrest and eruptive activity might be short, from days to weeks or months. The USGS Volcano Hazards Program (VHP) and its monitoring partners work to detect the earliest signals of volcanic unrest to forewarn communities at-risk and provide time for officials to activate emergency response plans and mitigation measures that can save lives and protect property. Because eruptions typically go through episodic cycles of increased activity and relative quiet after they begin, VHP scientists monitor volcanic behavior very closely to determine when it is safe to declare an eruption is over. In some cases, like in Hawaii, eruptions can continue for several tens of years.
We are all in this together. Everyone has a role in preparedness.
Role of the USGS:
Scientists from the five U.S. Volcano Observatories assess volcano hazards, participate in development of volcano coordination plans, monitor volcanic activity, issue warnings of impending eruptions, and deliver eruption updates via a formalized notification system.
Role of local governments and public officials:
Public officials keep their communities safe by developing and exercising emergency plans and by providing hazards education and notification about local hazards and emergency procedures. During volcanic activity, they are the ones to advise residents about closures, evacuation routes, and recommendations for recovery. Check our Regional Preparedness Resources page.
Everyone can make it through a volcanic event with greater safety and less disruption by 1) learning about the hazards where they live or visit, 2) following local recommendations to ensure households and businesses are prepared, and 3) preparing to be self-sufficient for up to two weeks by making an emergency plan and compiling an emergency kit.
Make basic preparations now.
- Learn—Find out more about the volcanoes that affect you and locate volcano hazard zones.
- Inquire—Ask local and state emergency offices, schools, and businesses about evacuation routes and their plans for handling a volcanic emergency. Know how to access information during a crisis and be ready to follow official guidance.
- Prepare—Gather basic emergency provisions. Establish a plan to reunite with family members if you are separated. Don't forget your pets!