UNOSAT presented the results of its latest research and applications project conducted in cooperation with the University of Geneva. In a talk at the “7th Swiss Geosciences Meeting, Neuchatel 2009” UNOSAT trainee and volcano expert Sebastien Biass presented a methodology likely to help decision makers to deal with volcanic ash fallouts during catastrophic events in densely populated areas.

Volcanic ash plays an important role during volcanic disasters, especially when related to explosive activity. Because of a constant increase of population density around volcanoes, better knowledge of hazards, vulnerability and risks, and better geospatial information, are necessary to governments and planners to produce efficient emergency planning and effective response.

UNOSAT work in this domain was developed in 2009 around a numerical model for producing probabilistic hazard assessment emerged from studies at the Geneva University. The methodology incorporates this hazard assessment into a GIS method using fuzzy modelling to draw comprehensive and tangible exposure-based risk maps. Free and global datasets were used to assess the exposure of buildings, vegetation and agriculture, airports, road network and other critical infrastructures. The methodology was applied to the Cotopaxi volcano (Ecuador), which was selected as a case study for developing and testing the method.

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