Thursday, May 26, 2005

Physical Modelling and Human Survival in Pyroclastic Flows (Based on Vesuvius)

Natural Hazards: "Volcanic eruptions increasingly present catastrophic natural risks with hundreds of millions of people now living in areas of active volcanism and major conurbations around active eruptive centres. Interdisciplinary studies in disaster reduction have an important role in volcanic emergency management through advancing our understanding of the physical impacts of eruptive phenomena and the causes of death and injury in explosive eruptions. Numerical modelling of pyroclastic flows, amongst the most destructive of eruptive phenomena, provides new opportunities to improve the evaluation of the potential destructiveness of volcanic events and their human impacts in densely populated areas. In this work, the results of numerical modelling of pyroclastic flow propagation at Vesuvius have been analysed in terms of the physical parameters (temperature, ash in air concentration, and dynamic pressure) that are most critical for human survival. Our numerical simulations of eruptions of Vesuvius indicate that a large area exists where total destruction may not be inevitable in small to medium scale events, a finding that has prompted us to explore further the implications for human survival as part of an interdisciplinary approach to disaster reduction. The lessons of modelling at Vesuvius should be integrated into civil protection plans for other urban centres threatened by volcanoes."
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