Volcano Disaster Assistance Program

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The ‘’’Volcano Disaster Assistance Program’’’ (VDAP) was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance after the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in 1985. The volcanic eruption melted a glacier triggering a lahar that killed 23,000 people.[1] It was determined that increased monitoring would make evacuating local populations much easier, saving lives. Today the program responds to volcanic crises around the world. The aim of the program is to assist in saving lives and property, to reduce economic losses, and to prevent a natural hazard becoming a natural disaster. VDAP are based in the Cascades Volcano Observatory, Washington State. VDAP channels its energy into four main activities; response to natural disaster, capacity building, training and research. Volocanology is increasingly being studied due to the severe impact it has around the world.[2]


VDAP respond to ‘domestic’ eruptions. The VDAP team is relatively small and so it supported by USGS Volcano Hazards Program (VHP) when responding to large eruptions. The events in which VDAP have been involved are listed in a table below.

Location Year Disaster Responses
Mount Pinatubo, Philippines 1991 Less than 5 years after its creation, VDAP was called to assist an eruption of Pinatubo in April 1991. The volcano is monitored by the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program's crisis-response team. Around 75,000 people and US$250 million to $375 million worth of equipment were evacuated before the major eruption.
Merapi, Indonesia 2006 Eruptions at Merapi affect more than a million people. A small team travelled out in 2006 to improve seismic monitoring and provide more remote sensing data.[3]
Nevado del Huila, Colombia 2007-2008 VDAP were involved in successfully forecasting an eruption[4] and the evacuation of over 4,000 people.[5]
Chaitén, Chile 2008 A small team helped to install real-time seismic monitoring to help scientists more closely watch the volcano and understand its activity.[6]

Preparation and Monitoring[edit]

Capacity building involves the development of education and monitoring in hazardous areas. The small group of scientists involved in the programme work on eruption forecasting and assessing the hazards in volcanically active areas. This is usually carried out when there is not a crisis to work on. This kind of work has been carried out in Central and South America since 1998, Papua New Guinea (1998-2000) and Indonesia since 2004.


VDAP hold workshops and training courses around the world. Many of these involve remote sensing and Geographic information system (GIS) modelling. VDAP present a six-week international study of active volcanoes course in Hawaii training geologists and civil workers in how to monitor volcanoes.[7]


The programme works to support projects which improve the forecasting of eruptions. Examples of this include research at Pinatubo and Chaitén Volcano, Chile


  1. ^ Ewert, J. W., Pallister, J. S., (2010), The volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) – Past and Future, American Geophysical Union,V43E-05
  2. ^ Tilling, R.I. (2010), Volcanic hazards and their mitigation: Progress and problems,Reviews of geophysics, 27,2
  3. ^ VDAP Responses at Merapi in Indonesia
  4. ^ 1 INGEOMINAS and VDAP Responses at Nevado del Huila, Colombia
  5. ^ Nevado del Huila volcano forces mass evacuations
  6. ^ eruption in Chile sparks interest in National Volcano Early Warning System
  7. ^ VDAP Training

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