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The diversity of volcanic hazard maps around the world: Insights from map makers

September 11, 2023

The IAVCEI Working Group on Hazard Mapping has been active since 2014 and has facilitated several activities to enable sharing of experiences of how volcanic hazard maps are developed and used around the world. One key activity was a global survey of 90 map makers and practitioners to collect data about official, published volcanic hazard maps and how they were developed. The survey asked questions about map content, design, and input data, as well as about the map development process and key lessons learned. Here we present the results of this global survey, which are then used to quantitatively describe and summarise current practices in volcanic hazard map development.

We received entries related to 89 volcanic hazard maps (78% long-term/background maps and 22% short-term/crisis hazard maps), covering a total of 80 volcanoes across 28 countries. Although most maps captured in the survey are volcano-scale maps of stratovolcanoes that show similar types of content, such as primary hazard footprints or zones, they vary greatly in input data, communication style, format, appearance, scale, content, and visual design. This diversity stems from a range of factors, including differences in map purpose, the methodology used, the level of understanding of past eruptive history, the prevailing scientific and cartographic practice at the time, the state of volcanic activity, and variations in culture, national map standards and legal requirements.

Experiences and lessons shared by our respondents can be divided into six main themes: map design considerations; the process of map development; map audience and map user needs; hazard assessment approach; map availability and accessibility; and external (e.g., political) influences. Insights shared included the importance of: visual design elements, map testing and evaluation, working with stakeholders and end users to improve a map’s efficacy and relevance, and considering possible unanticipated uses of hazard maps. These free-form text insights (i.e., responses to open-ended questions) from map makers and practitioners familiar with the maps lend depth and clarity to our results. They provide a rich complement to our more quantitative analysis of design elements and of approaches used to determine and delineate map zones.

Results from our global survey of hazard map makers and practitioners, together with insights from other key initiatives of the Working Group on Hazard Mapping such as the Volcanic Hazard Maps Database (VHMD;, provide a snapshot of the wide variety of volcanic hazard maps generated over the past decades, and improve our understanding of the diversity across volcanic hazard mapping practices. These initiatives represent important steps towards fulfilling the aims of the Working Group, namely, to construct a framework for a classification scheme for volcanic hazard maps and to promote harmonized terminology, as well as to identify and categorise good practices and considerations for volcanic hazard mapping.

Publication Year 2023
Title The diversity of volcanic hazard maps around the world: Insights from map makers
DOI 10.1186/s13617-023-00134-5
Authors Jan Lindsay, Danielle Charlton, Mary Ann T. Clive, Daniel Bertin, Sarah E. Ogburn, Heather M. Wright, John W. Ewert, Eliza S. Calder, Bastian Steinke
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Applied Volcanology
Index ID 70248917
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center