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News from IUGG General Assembly, Melbourne, 2011

IUGG WOVO Symposium - 'World Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and International Science'

We had a very well attended symposium at the IUGG General Assembly in Melbourne, and a good mixture of cross-disciplinary talks.  Our special thanks to John Nielson-Gammon, President of the International Commission on Dynamical Meteorology, for co-sponsoring the symposium on behalf of IMAS. Talks ranged from core volcanology to the meteorology of volcanic clouds, as well as a dash of international diplomacy with an explanation of the International Civil Aviation Organization's Task Force from Mr Raul Romero.

Commissions Meeting

IAVCEI Secretary-General Prof. Joan Marti chaired a meeting of IAVCEI Commission Leaders.  Joan explained the major changes upon us with the removal of IAVCEI membership fees (ie fees will no longer be charged) and IAVCEI funding largely determined by who identifies as an IAVCEI member at the IUGG.  Two take-home messages: 

- if you're not an IAVCEI member, join!

- come to the next IUGG!  You will be supporting IAVCEI if you do.

WOVO Meeting and new co-leaders

WOVO held its biennial meeting at the IUGG and reported on the activities of the past 4 years (at every IUGG meeting, the Commissions must submit a report). The minutes are pasted below.  The most important thing is to announce that, with two of the three co-leaders (Andrew Tupper and Warner Marzocchi)  having completed their terms, there are two new co-leaders!  Susanna Falsaperla (INGV, Italy) and Gill Jolly (GNS, New Zealand) have kindly agreed to take on the leadership mantle, joining Peter Webley.  Our thanks for this and for the strong support of WOVO members.  It's been fun. 

Andrew Tupper & Warner Marzocchi



WOVO General Meeting


Monday, 4th July 2011

(during the 2011 IUGG General Assembly)



Warner Marzocchi                   INGV, Italy (co-leader)

Andrew Tupper                       Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (co-leader)

John Eichelberger                    USGS, United States

Graham Leonard                     GNS Science, New Zealand

Emma Doyle                           Massey Uni / GNS, New Zealand

Sally Potter                             Massey Uni / GNS, New Zealand

Torge Steensen                        Alaska Volcano Observatory, United States

Steinunn S Jakobsdottir          Icelandic Met Office, Iceland

Erouscilla Joseph                     SRC, UWI, St Augustine, Trinidad



Peter Webley                           Alaska Volcano Observatory, United States

Susanna Falsaperla                  INGV, Italy (co-leader)

Chris Newhall                         Earth Observatory of Singapore

Gill Jolly                                  GNS Science, New Zealand


The meeting opened at 12:10pm


Opening remarks:

The co-leaders welcomed all present to the meeting. Meeting participants introduced themselves and agreed the proposed agenda.


Report on last 4 years:

The co-leaders summarised the activities of the past 4 years, given here in an Appendix.  The Meeting agree that the activity had been useful, and encouraged the continuation of activities.  Particular attention was focused on the forthcoming ‘Volcano Observatory Best Practices Workshop: Eruption forecasting’, to be held in Erice, Italy, from 11-15 September.


Election of New Co-leaders:

Two nominations were received for replacements for the two co-leaders who were stepping down at the meeting.


Dr Susanna Falsaperla (INGV, Italy) was nominated to replace Dr Warner Marzocchi, representing the European and African region.


Dr Gill Jolly (GNS Science, New Zealand) was nominated to replace Dr Andrew Tupper, representing the Australasian region (including east Asia).


As the number of nominations equalled the number of vacancies, the two new co-leaders were elected by acclamation.  It was also agreed that Dr Marzocchi would formally step-down as co-leader and hand over to Dr Falsaperla on 16 September 2011, directly after the Erice workshop.


Other Business


1)      Consistent branding.  The meeting discussed an item raised at the IAVCEI Commissions meeting the previous day, and agreed that WOVO would seek to adopt branding on its web site and letterhead consistent with the other IAVCEI Commissions – each Commission being clearly a part of IAVCEI and also helping cross-promote the other Commissions.

2)      The meeting discussed the need to keep developing the WOVO website ( , including intuitive links to the websites of the observatories (perhaps via a map interface), or to the Smithsonian’s weekly bulletin when no observatory web page was relevant.

3)      The meeting noted the considerable progress made with observatories engaging with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on matters of mutual interest.  In the context of a meeting of ICAO’s International Volcanic Ash Task Force (IVATF) the following week, the meeting also considered a questionnaire prepared by Chris Newhall and Peter Webley and provided feedback.  It was also noted that some of the proposals before the IVATF were far-reaching.

4)      The meeting was briefed on recent changes to IAVCEI membership requirements, meaning that IAVCEI membership would not carry a fee (although a voluntary donation will still be possible).  IAVCEI will be largely dependent on IUGG registration fees for its income.  It was agreed that this change gives a significant opportunity to ensure that all Volcano Observatory managers and many staff are IAVCEI members, and also that it would also be highly desirable to encourage IUGG attendance.


The meeting closed at 1:10 pm



Appendix 1:




Commission leader(s) information:









Starting Date:

April 2005


Full address:



Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Roma, Italy



Zip/Postal Code: 




+39 06 51860589


+39 06 51860507











Starting Date:

Joined Fall 2008


Full address:



Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks


Alaska, USA

Zip/Postal Code: 

99775 AK USA 



(+1) 907-4741542 


(+1) 907-4747290 











Starting Date:

April 2005


Full address:



Bureau of Meteorology, 13 Scaturchio St, Casuarina 


Northern Territory, Australia

Zip/Postal Code: 




(+61) 8-89203801


(+61) 8-89203802



Brief (half page max) description of main objectives:





WOVO is an organization of and for volcano observatories of the world. Members are institutions that are engaged in volcano surveillance and, in most cases, are responsible for warning authorities and the public about hazardous volcanic unrest.

We aim to:


*       stimulate communication and cooperation between observatories and institutions directly involved in volcano monitoring,

*       develop and maintain volcano monitoring reference materials, including a directory of member observatories, their monitoring networks and staff,

*       upon request, to help a member observatory to find temporary scientific reinforcement, and

*       refer governments, international organizations, and others seeking assistance in volcano monitoring to the appropriate member observatories.



The main specific objectives that we have pursued in the last four years are:


1.      Overseeing and supporting WOVOdat project

2.      Updating the WOVO web site,

3.      Improving the communication among volcanic observatories, and between observatories and other interested parties such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Meteorological Organization.

4.      Working with the International Volcanic Ash Task Force brought together after Eyjafjallajökull events in 2010

5.      Supporting some international proposal for NERC (Natural Environment Research Council, United Kingdom) funding whose results may be of great benefit for volcano observatories.

6.      Supporting an initiative to write a report on the best practice for short-term eruption forecasting. The document will be finalized by the end of 2011 and it will be oriented to provide a best practice to be used in all volcano observatories.



List of Commission members:






The commission has three co-leaders (Warner  Marzocchi, Peter Webley, Andrew Tupper), with many observatory members as listed in our directory at  Meetings are also open to interested parties.


In addition, a steering group for the WOVOdat project is chaired by Chris Newhall.





Recent workshops and meetings

(for the last four years, indicating name, place, dates, aim, number of participants)



1.      WOVO meeting at IUGG; Monday 09 July 2007, Room 16, Academy of Fine Arts
Fondazione Accademia di Belle Arti, Piazza S. Francesco Al Prato, 5 - 06123 Perugia (during the IUGG 2007 meeting). Aim: Illustrating ongoing WOVO initiatives on 1) supporting WOVOdat project, and 2) improving communication among volcanic observatories and Civil Aviation. Attendance: 5 people (the meeting was not properly publicized by the organization committee)

2.      WOVO workshop at IUGG. Wednesday 11 July 2007, Workshop WV002, 10am – 5:30pm “Non-localised volcanic hazards - Inter-agency and international communications” How do we work together better internationally? Speakers from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), INGV (Italy), CVGHM (Indonesia), USGS (USA), UK Met Office, Meteo-France, and more! Room 6, Academy of Fine Arts Fondazione Accademia di Belle Arti, Piazza S. Francesco Al Prato, 5 - 06123 Perugia. 12 talks for an attendance of about 40-50 people.

3.      WOVO hosted two meetings during the meeting “Cities on Volcanoes 5” in Shimabara (Japan); at Tsukumo Hotel in Shimabara on the evening on November 20 (Tue.) - a general WOVO meeting, and a meeting of the WOVOdat steering committee. Attendance: 15-20 people.

4.      WOVO meeting at AGU, San Francisco, December 2007. Aim: to discuss with some selected volcanologists the content of the new WOVO web page, and the “volcanic alert levels” issue. Attendance: 5 people.

5.      WOVO workshop during IAVCEI meeting 2008 in Reykjavik. “Local and global co-operation in a volcanic crisis - case studies and lessons learned”. Volcanic crises have always posed local challenges, but the globalisation of communications and increasing international focus on geohazards has also brought new challenges and opportunities. The opportunities include the potential resources available from remote sensing, high profile aid projects, aviation and tsunami warning programs, and increased possibilities from traditional sources such as other volcano observatories and universities. The challenges include giving a clear message to the media amongst the noise, prioritising competing offers of help, and satisfying the demands of local and international groups.





Future workshops and meetings

(for the next two years, indicating name place, dates, aim, expected number of participants)



1.      WOVO workshop during IUGG meeting 2011 in Melbourne "World Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and international Science"  (Organizer IAVCEI, co-sponsor IAMAS, Lead Conveners: Andrew Tupper (Australia), Peter Webley (United States of America), Warner Marzocchi (Italy), John Nielson-Gammon (United States of America)). Scope: Volcano observatories charged with protecting life and property are often under intense pressure during a volcanic crisis.  The globalization of the world’s media and increased awareness of volcanic hazards to the aviation industry and to general human health, as well as volcanic effects on climate, puts additional pressure on scientists and disaster managers at the source. Conversely, observations from the wider world, including from the world’s aerosol, seismic, aviation and other communities, might usefully feed back to the source to help understand an eruption in the context of its world significance.  International science efforts can also, if appropriately coordinated, significantly enhance the capacity of local scientists and disaster managers. This symposium invites case-studies about the relationship between the scientists at the volcanic source and science in the wider world.  In what ways can scientists support both local disaster mitigation and good international science? What new technologies can be applied, what observations from the source are the international community needing, and how do we help each other?

2.      VOLCANO OBSERVATORY BEST PRACTICES WORKSHOP: ERUPTION FORECASTING 11-15 September 2011, Erice, Italy. Risks posed by volcanic eruptions continue to grow as populations near active volcanoes and air traffic over them continue to increase. Meanwhile, there is increasing technical capability of volcano observatories and associated scientists to detect and analyze unrest well in advance of eruption, providing great promise and sometimes the reality that forecasting eruptions can minimize loss of life and property. This capability carries with it the responsibility to construct the best possible procedures to support necessary governmental actions such as evacuating populations and/or restricting travel and commerce. Although scientific understanding of volcanic processes is advancing, the basis for interpretation of monitoring data with respect to near-term hazards remains largely empirical. Critical experience may come first-hand only a few times during the career of an individual observatory-based scientist, but much of the advance in short-term eruption forecasting depends upon relating monitoring observations to volcanic outcomes. It is therefore important that lessons learned be shared internationally, so that a consensus on, and useful guide for, volcano observatory best practices can be developed. Under the aegis of IAVCEI and WOVO, the INGV and USGS are convening the first of what may become a series of volcano observatory best practices (VOBP) workshops. This meeting will focus on the critical theme of forecasting the occurrence of eruptions and their probable impact in the near term, when quick action may be needed. The emphasis will be on presentation and discussion of experiences in forecasting eruptions, both successful and unsuccessful, while leaving extensive discussion of the important underlying science to meetings such as IAVCEI, AGU, and EGU. The objective is to develop synergy among volcano hazards programs and their observatories internationally, so as to more rapidly and broadly advance the field.






Other activities:


Further details on the development of the WOVOdat project are available at the project website,

or by contacting Chris Newhall











Warner Marzocchi, Andrew Tupper, & Peter Webley