Economic Impact of Volcanic Hazards


-Samuel Bonis, Guatemala

-Gloria Patricia Cortes, Colombia

-Harold Garbeil, United States

-Barry Green, United States

-Shigeru Kitamura, Japan

-María Luisa Monsalve, Colombia

-Hector Monzón, Guatemala

-Hugo Moreno, Chile

-Martha Navarro, Nicaragua

-Fredy Vargas, Guatemala


Present to government institutions (banks, ministries, etc.) the economic impact of a volcanic event. This includes economic impact, the human casualties, destruction of infrastructure (monetary loss), and social consequences.


1) Establish an informal interdisciplinary group, including volcanologists, economists, geographers, engineers, planners, who work as a team, focusing on the existing hazard map.

2) Apply the studies of the interdisciplinary group to the hazard map so as to achieve the stated objectives.


1) Request appropriate foreign aid to train local professionals who would be able to make the hazard maps, and economic impact studies. We emphasize that the final product should be completely national (local input).

2) The present hazard maps should be revised and updated by volcanologists.

3) We attach the recommendations of specialists from Chile and Colombia for the analysis of economic impact to be taken into account in future studies.

4) We recommend that volcanologists and members of the interdisciplinary team make efforts to provide data on probability concerning volcanological events in order to be more effective in the evaluation of economic impact. Therefore, we recommend that research on probability of dangerous volcanological events be conducted.


The team was astonished at the present state of the Santiaguito volcanological observatory. This discovery caused the team to spend a great deal of time in discussion. We recommend the immediate reestablishment of the Seismic Network in order to improve the quality of monitoring and international image.

General and Specific Recommendations by Colombian and Chilean Specialists

1) Geological mapping on scale 1:50,000

2) Drawing of a very rigorous hazard map on scale 1:50,000

3) Form an interdisciplinary team with:

*geologists, volcanologists

*human geographers and/or sociologists


*specialists in analysis of vulnerability and probability


4) Evaluation of economy and human conditions of the area

5) Drawing of a map of volcanic hazards

Evaluation of Economic Impact of Eruptions of Santiaguito Dome

Addendum: Chile/Colombia


The evaluation of the economic impact of eruptive activity must have the hazard map as a foundation. The present hazard map is not sufficient as to carry out the evaluation of economic impact of eruptions of the Santa María/Santiaguito volcanos. In order to accomplish this objective it is necessary to complement the existing information with:

1) Making a geological map on a scale of 1:50,000.

2) Updating and changing of the present hazard map involving the Santa María/Santiaguito Volcano complex.

3) Forming an interdisciplinary team (preferably interinstitutional) with the participation of the following personnel:


*human geographers and/or sociologists

*geologists or survey engineers

*industrial engineers and/or economists

*geographic historians

*specialists in analysis of vulnerability

This personnel will be in charge of the following activities:

*quantify evaluation of the volcanic effects by hazard zones,

*collect information on population census in the areas which might be affected.

*collect information on activities, land use, and infrastructure in the potentially affected zones.

Based on the above information, carry out the economic evaluation of the zones potentially threatened by different hazards.

Once the above steps are complete, a volcanic hazard map can be drawn up (understanding risk as: hazard+vulnerability). This map is absolutely necessary for the land use planning, the drawing up of adequate emergency plans, and educational efforts for the community.


*Formation of interdisciplinary team with interinstitutional participation.

*By means of international agreements, train geologists/volcanologists in volcanology and risk communication.

*Make a geological map on a scale of 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 that includes detailed chronostratigraphy of preferably at least 10,000 years.

*Complement the existing hazard map with all the geological information and historical eruptive chronology available.

*Disseminate information on the dangers of the Santa María/Santiaguito volcanic complex. Approach the different authorities, present specific projects in order to obtain economic resources sufficient to achieve the proposed goals.