Volcanic Hazard Mapping

The Volcanic Hazard Mapping theme (1995-2001) developed a methodology for mapping volcanic hazards using optical, thermal and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data in combination with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. As part of the GARS Asia project, maps were created for four volcanoes in the Philippines – Bulusan, Mayon, Pinatubo and Taal. Research was concentrated on the Pinatubo volcano in the wake of its eruption in 1991which precipitated broad concern for improved mapping of geologic hazards and lahar flows (mudflows).

Lahars are powerful flows capable of moving great quantities of material over long distances in a short time, destroying virtually everything in their path. The usual result of a lahar flow is a deposit of sediment ranging from a few meters to a few hundreds of meters in thickness. The volcanic hazard mapping theme identified old lahar flows in order to evaluate the risk of developing new lahar flows on the volcano.


Physical characteristics were measured at each volcano. The data were complied into a comprehensive reference database of volcano characteristics that described volcano structure, active fault zones, morphology, drainage patterns and the extent of major volcanic and volcanoclastic deposits. The database was then used for specific research on risk zonation studies at Bulusan, a survey of the flanks of the volcano edifice prone to sector-collapse at Mayon, the distribution of different generations of lahar deposits within distalluvial fans at Pinatubo, and a survey of ground deformation using SAR data and a survey of thermal anomalies using airborne remote sensing data at Taal.


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