Geo-debate: coexistence with a volcano

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The geo-debate initiative aims to answer topics of scientific and social interes
The geo-debate initiative aims to answer topics of scientific and social interest and defend the importance of the knowledge on geology. Image: Gerard Nel·lo

Can we anticipate an eruption? How is an active volcanic area monitored? What are the tools scientists work with during a volcanic episode? How is a communication crisis handled in the midst of such a fascinating but catastrophic phenomenon? All these questions build up the debate "Conviure amb un volcŕ: gestió i risc geologic a la Palma", the first session of the geo-debates launched by the Faculty of Earth Sciences at the University of Barcelona, to take place both at the Faculty and online, on April 5, at 6:00 p.m., in the Aula Magna Carmina Virgili.

The geo-debate initiative aims to answer topics of scientific and social interest and defend the importance of the knowledge on geology regarding the several social, environmental, and economic challenges of the 21st century.

La Palma: coexisting with a volcano

This first session, which counts on the support from the Catalan Association of Scientific Communication (ACCC), will use as a model the eruption that took place in La Palma on September 9, the longest —a total of 85 days— historical record on the island. The eruption, of Strombolian type, created six new craters in the Natural Park of Cumbre Vieja and changed the landscape of the western side of the island. More than 1,000 hectares were covered by tracks that destroyed residential areas, infrastructures, and cultivated fields.

During the volcanic episode there were more than 9,000 seisms and an eruptive column that covered great parts of the island with ashes. The eruption had a strong impact on the lives of thousands of people who had to be evacuated and lost their properties. This eruptive episode became a real challenge in crisis communication and risk management for all the involved professionals.

Vulcanology, communication and risk management

This first session will include the participation of the following experts:

Helena Albert, lecturer at the Department of Mineralogy, Petrology and Applied Geology of the Faculty of Earth Sciences of the UB, also expert in the field of petrology and geochemistry, especially in studies on the magmatic system and temporal scales of processes that take place in the depth and the transportation of magma towards the surface

Carmen López, head of the National Network of Surveillance and Volcanic Risks in Spain and the Central Geophysical Observatory of the National Geographic Institute, also member of the scientific committees of Civil Protection in the Canary Islands and head of the eruptive crisis management in El Hierro (2011) and La Palma (2021)

Arnau Folch, research professor at the CSIC Geo3BCN Institute and coordinator of the Center of Excellence for Exascale in Solid Earth (ChEESE), expert in the numerical modelling of natural hazards and author of papers on the forecast of ash and gas dispersal during the eruption of La Palma

Cori Calero , expert journalist on the environment, climate change and science at TV3 and correspondent in La Palma to broadcast the progression of the eruption and its impact on the island population.

The geo-debate will be live-streamed here.