The 2005-6 eruption of Augustine Volcano in the Cook Inlet region, Alaska, greatly increased public desire for volcano hazard information, as this eruption was the most significant in Cook Inlet since 1992. In response to this heightened concern, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) increased ongoing efforts to deliver specific eruption-focused information to communities nearest to the volcano, created a public communications strategy to assist staff with managing requests, and used the recently upgraded AVO Web site as a primary information-delivery path. During the eruption, AVO responded to a minimum of ~1,700 individual requests for information from the media, the public, and other organizations with responsibilities associated with volcanic activity in Alaska; requests were received both as phone calls to the observatory and e-mail stemming from the AVO Web site. Staff also delivered approximately two dozen Augustine-specific presentations and gave nearly three dozen tours of the AVO Anchorage Operations Center in Anchorage. This intensity of public interaction was markedly higher than during noneruptive periods.
During the Augustine unrest and eruption, AVO also refined its internal communication procedures, instituted and maintained up-to-date and concise talking points concerning the most recent and relevant volcanic activity and hazards, and created a media management plan to assist staff in working with members of the media. These items aided staff in maintaining a consistent message concerning the eruption, potential hazards, and our response activities.
The AVO Web site, with its accompanying database, is the backbone of AVO's external and internal communications. This was the first Cook Inlet volcanic eruption with a public expectation of real-time access to data, updates, and hazards information over the Internet. In March 2005, AVO improved the Web site from individual static pages to a dynamic, database-driven site. This new system provided quick and straightforward access to the latest information for (1) staff within the observatory, (2) emergency managers from State and local governments and organizations, (3) the media, and (4) the public. From mid-December 2005 through April 2006, the AVO Web site served more than 45 million Web pages and about 5.5 terabytes of data.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Public Outreach and Communications of the Alaska Volcano Observatory during the 2005-2006 Eruption of Augustine Volcano