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Stanley Williams Colloquium Abstract (Oct 19, 2016)

The Importance of Being There: Why I Study Active Volcanoes

More than 800 million people in 86 countries live within 100 km of dangerous volcanoes. Most of the major advances in volcanology have been made following devastating eruptions from the direction observations of the activity and eruptions of the 1,551 active volcanoes that have resulted in more than 250,000 fatalities worldwide. Seismic signatures and magmatic degassing have been the most effective indicators of eruptions. However, geological studies of the rock record alone have not yielded a comprehensive understanding of eruption mechanics. Post-eruption observations and processes lack the ability to adequately forecast eruptions, and are not fully recorded in the geological record. Forecasting volcanic eruptions requires an interdisciplinary approach that includes studies of geology, pre- and post-eruption geochemistry, seismology, traditional and contemporary volcanology, structural analysis, geomorphology, surface deformation, geochronology, and eruption modeling. Pre-eruption observations and data collection are vastly underutilized, and critically important to improving the ability to forecast specific eruptions.