The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program—Helping to save lives worldwide for more than 30 years

Fact Sheet 2017-3071
Prepared in cooperation with U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
By:  and 

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Abstract

What do you do when a sleeping volcano roars back to life? For more than three decades, countries around the world have called upon the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) to contribute expertise and equipment in times of crisis. Co-funded by the USGS and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), VDAP has evolved and grown over the years, adding newly developed monitoring technologies, training and exchange programs, and eruption forecasting methodologies to greatly expand global capabilities that mitigate the impacts of volcanic hazards. These advances, in turn, strengthen the ability of the United States to respond to its own volcanic events.

VDAP was formed in 1986 in response to the devastating volcanic mudflow triggered by an eruption of Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia. The mudflow destroyed the city of Armero on the night of November 13, 1985, killing more than 25,000 people in the city and surrounding areas. Sadly, the tragedy was avoidable. Better education of the local population and clear communication between scientists and public officials could have allowed warnings to be received, understood, and acted upon prior to the disaster.

VDAP strives to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again. The program’s mission is to assist foreign partners, at their request, in volcano monitoring and empower them to take the lead in mitigating hazards at their country’s threatening volcanoes. Since 1986, team members have responded to over 70 major volcanic crises at more than 50 volcanoes and have strengthened response capacity in 12 countries. The VDAP team consists of approximately 20 geologists, geophysicists, and engineers, who are based out of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. In 2016, VDAP was a finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for its work in improving volcano readiness and warning systems worldwide, helping countries to forecast eruptions, save lives, and reduce economic losses while enhancing America’s ability to respond to domestic volcanic events.

Suggested Citation

Lowenstern, J.B., and Ramsey, D.W., 2017, The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program—Helping to save lives worldwide for more than 30 years: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3071, 6 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173071.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program—Helping to save lives worldwide for more than 30 years
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2017-3071
DOI 10.3133/fs20173071
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 6 p.