Volcanic activity has caused significant hazards to numerous airports worldwide, with local to far-ranging effects on travelers and commerce. To more fully characterize the nature and scope of volcanic hazards to airports, we collected data on incidents of airports throughout the world that have been affected by volcanic activity, beginning in 1944 with the first documented instance of damage to modern aircraft and facilities in Naples, Italy, and extending through 2006. Information was gleaned from various sources, including news outlets, volcanological reports (particularly the Smithsonian Institution's Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network), and previous publications on the topic.
This report presents the full compilation of the data collected. For each incident, information about the affected airport and the volcanic source has been compiled as a record in a Microsoft Access database. The database is incomplete in so far as incidents may not have not been reported or documented, but it does present a good sample from diverse parts of the world. Not included are en-route diversions to avoid airborne ash clouds at cruise altitudes. The database has been converted to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. To make the PDF version of table 1 in this open-file report resemble the spreadsheet, order the PDF pages as 12, 17, 22; 13, 18, 23; 14, 19, 24; 15, 20, 25; and 16, 21, 26.
Analysis of the database reveals that, at a minimum, 101 airports in 28 countries were impacted on 171 occasions from 1944 through 2006 by eruptions at 46 volcanoes. The number of affected airports (101) probably is better constrained than the number of incidents (171) because recurring disruptions at a given airport may have been lumped together or not reported by news agencies, whereas the initial disruption likely is noticed and reported and thus the airport correctly counted.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Compilation of Disruptions to Airports by Volcanic Activity (Version 1.0, 1944-2006)