The project investigates the intertwined human and environmental geographies of borderland volcanic areas in Latin America (particularly Chile, Argentina and Peru) and elsewhere. It combines human geographical theories of the earth with approaches from science and technology studies to think about volcanic places and spaces undergoing rapid environmental change and seeks to integrate new theoretical ideas with disaster risk reduction in developing contexts.
The project builds on an assemblage approach to understand disasters as hybrid human-physical-environmental ruptures. It seeks to interrogate the conceptual spaces between vulnerability and hazard in approaches to disasters, recognising that scientific imaginations and those of communities may differ over small spatial areas, with significant impacts on risk.
This draws upon several interdisciplinary data collection methods to examine the creation, use, and negotiation of knowledge regarding volcanic risk (and interconnected hazards) by communities, scientists, and stakeholders in transboundary contexts.
The methods used include expert interviews of volcanologists and Disaster Risk Reduction stakeholders at the national, regional, and local levels, interviews and participatory methods in communities living near volcanoes, and online surveys and data collection (among others). Due to the coronavirus pandemic, remote fieldwork options (online expert interviews and surveys) were initially conducted, followed by three data collection field trips in Chile in late 2021 and Chile, Argentina, and Peru in early 2022, and Chile, Argentina and Nicaragua in early 2023 with preparation for further fieldwork ongoing.
Please view our flyer for further details and photos of the project in action:
ERC IMAGINE Team
Main study sites
Chaitén is both the name of the town where we work and the name of the volcano that caused the lahars that destroyed it in 2008. We collaborate with the Museo de Sitio (Fundacion Procultura) which works to preserve the memory of the events.
Interviews were conducted with Chaitén residents and authorities in 2021 and 2022, during which we created VolcanoVoices that will allow us to share different visions of the territory and preserve its memory (see the video of our presentation ‘Story Spheres’ at Cities on Volcanoes 2022 further down on this page). We also created a life-size print of a volcanic cross-section to be exhibited in the Museo de Sitio to explain the eruptive history of the volcano to visitors (work in progress!).
Kütralkura Geopark, Chile
We are working in two main locations in the Kütralkura Geopark: Melipeuco, and Malalcahuello and their surrounding communities, where we have conducted a total of 85 interviews with residents and authorities in late 2021-2023.
The geopark and its various ‘geosites’ provide a unique opportunity for sharing visions of the environment and understandings of volcanic hazards and associated risks. Specific audio recordings were also collected in Melipeuco and Malalcahuello to build VolcanoVoices. See our talk – in Spanish – at Simposio Geoparques y Geoturismo en Chile further down on this page as well as our presentation of early and emerging results from Malalcahuello at Cities on Volcanoes 2022.
Copahue, Chile & Argentina
We are working in collaboration with the Pewenche community of Butalelbún in Alto Biobío, Chile, to investigate the persistent activity of Copahue volcano in the context of its highly dynamic geological terrain. This case study is being undertaken by our PhD student, Carolyn Smith, through an extensive period of ethnographic fieldwork. The work is being undertaken with the permission and support of Lonko Roberto Manquepi, and the first phase of the fieldwork took place over a 6 month period in 2022, with a further follow-up trip in Feb-April 2023. Copahue is a uniquely situated case study as the volcano sits directly on the national border between Chile and Argentina; as such, this work encompasses the Mapuche communities that live on the Argentinian side of the volcano as well as the Chilean side.
Arequipa is known worldwide as the ‘White City’ because of its sillar (a variety of volcanic rhyolite) buildings. The sillar is extracted from the ignimbrite quarries that surround the city. In the Añashuyaco quebrada, the quarrymen extract sillar by hand using traditional techniques. They also produce impressive sculptures in order to develop a tourist route, the Ruta del Sillar. This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of geoheritage and volcanic hazards among the people of Arequipa and beyond. We are collaborating with the Ruta del Sillar Association, INGEMMET and UNESCO through the International Geoscience Programme 692 to understand how to implement appropriate and effective communication tools, while preserving memory of this unique location.
Villarica / Quetrupillán / Lanín, Chile & Argentina
The three volcanoes of Villarica, Quetrupillán, and Lanín are aligned in a north-west to south-east line, ending at the Chile / Argentina border. These volcanoes have cultural significance related to each other for indigenous groups in the area and the border directly crosses Lanín. There is also a significant tourism presence in the town of Pucon and around Villarica (the number one ranked volcano for risk by SERNAGEOMIN) with high levels of development on the slope of the volcano. We are conducting interviews with community members in Conaripe, Pucon, and on both sides of Lanín to understand the different knowledges and perceptions of the volcanoes (including our VolcanoVoices methodology). This work is in collaboration with OAVV and other local partners.
Masaya, Mombacho and Ometepe, Nicaragua
We are collaborating with the National Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER) in connection with UNESCO’s International Geoscience Programme 692 to explore the role of geoheritage as a tool of preservation, touristic development and risk education in communities exposed to volcanic hazards on the slopes of Masaya, Mombacho and Ometepe volcanoes. Hazard communication is particularly urgent at the foot of Mombacho, where rapid changes in vegetation cover since 2016 have raised concerns about the possibility of a debris avalanche. During our studies we conduct interviews with exposed communities, tourist guides and authorities, and develop our VolcanoVoices methodology to facilitate this communication.
Maps of our study sites
Donovan A. (2021) Colonising Geology: Volcanic Politics and geopower. Political Geography, 86
Donovan, A. (2021). Experts in emergencies: A framework for understanding scientific advice in crisis contexts. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 56
Donovan A. (2022) Volcanoes and the Human and Physical Geographies of Risk. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science.
Kavanagh, J.L., Annen, C.J., Burchardt, S., Morin, J., et al. Volcanologists—who are we and where are we going?. Bull Volcanol 84, 53 (2022).
Gallant, E., Cole, L., Connor, C., Donovan, A., Molisee, D., Morin, J., Walshe, R. and Wetmore, P. Modelling eruptive source parameters in distributed volcanic fields Volcanica 4(2), pp.325-343 (2021).
Pelling, M., Adams, H., Adamson, G., Barcena, A., Blackburn, S., Borie, M., Donovan, A., et al. Building back better from Covid-19: knowledge, emergence and social contracts, Progress in Human Geography 2021, Vol. 0(0) 1–18
Raška, P., Walshe, R (2022) Heritigizing traditional adaptations to natural hazards: A critical perspective, in Landscape as Heritage: International Critical Perspectives, Routledge
Tadini, A., Harris, A., Morin, J., et al (2022) “Structured elicitation of expert judgement in real-time eruption scenarios: an exercise for Piton de la Fournaise volcano, La Réunion island”, Volcanica, 5(1), pp. 105–131. doi: 10.30909/vol.05.01.105131.
Lièvre P., Mérour E., Morin J., Macedo Franco L., Ramos Palomino D., Rivera Porras M., Masías Alvarez P. and van Wyk de Vries B. (2022), Volcanic risk management practice evolution between vulnerability and resilience: The case of Arequipa in Peru. Front. Earth Sci. 10:877161. doi: 10.3389/feart.2022.877161
Walshe R., Morin J., Donovan A., Vergara-Pinto F., Smith C. (2023) Contrasting memories and imaginaries of Lonquimay volcano, Chile, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 2023
Donovan A., Morin J., Walshe R. (2023) Bridging Physical and Human Geography: Interdisciplinary research in hazards and disaster risk. Progress in Environmental Geography
Video recording of our 11 January, 2021 launch event. Full captions in English available.
Julie Morin’s talk (in Spanish) at the 4th Simposio Geoparques y Geoturismo en Chile en el Geoparque Mundial Unesco Kütralkura, in February 2022.
Full session with other talks available on the Kütralkura Facebook page:
Amy Donovan explaining ‘Why social science seem so annoyingly political, and what are the implications for interdisciplinary projects” at the Cities on Volcanoes 11 Conference, on 13 June 2022.
Rory Walshe presenting early results at the Cities on Volcanoes 11 Conference, June 2022.
Julie Morin presenting the Volcano Voices methodology at the Cities on Volcanoes 11 Conference, on 15 June 2022, in Heraklion, Crete.
IMAGINE PROJECT IN THE MEDIA
Live Interview on Radio Chaíten – 18 November 2021
Live interview on Melipeuco TV during the Feria de Divulgacion Volcanologica.
Many other people were interviewed during this science festival, the above video doesn’t focus specifically on our team interview.