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Adapting to changes in volcanic behaviour: formal and informal interactions for enhanced risk management at Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador


Written by Emily Wilkinson


This paper provides an example of how communities can adapt to extreme forms of environmental change and uncertainty over the longer term. We analyse the interactions between scientists, communities and risk managers and examine the interpretation and communication of uncertain scientific information during a long-lived volcanic eruption in Tungurahua, Ecuador. This is complemented by a detailed study of the eruptions of 2006 and 2014, which exemplifies the complexity of interactions during periods of heightened volcanic activity.

Highlights from the study:

  • We consider how ‘shadow networks’ help communities adapt to environmental change and uncertainty.

  • The findings suggest that ‘shadow networks’ have facilitated improvements in hazard monitoring, communication and evacuation processes.

  • There have been improvements in collective responses to volcanic risk, allowing people to maintain their livelihoods.

  • A step change may now be required to anticipate and respond better to rapid-onset volcanic activity.

Maria Teresa Armijosa, Jeremy Phillips, Emily Wilkinson, Jenni Barclay, Anna Hicks, Pablo Palacios, Patricia Mothes and Jonathan Stone