The use of Geographical Information Systems for Disaster Risk Reduction strategies: a case study of Volcán de Colima, Mexico

  • Owen Landeg

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Historically, volcanic research has been focussed primarily upon the geological hazard of eruptions while the exposure of the population at risk is often understudied. However, contemporary disaster risk management requires the analysis of vulnerability and hazard exposure, which is imperative at Volcán de Colima (VdC), Mexico, due to the predicted, large-magnitude eruption forecasted to occur before 2025. The methods used to gauge social vulnerability included the development and application of proxies to census records, the undertaking of a building vulnerability survey and the spatial mapping of civil and emergency infrastructure. Hazard exposure was assessed using primary modelling of laharic events and the digitisation of secondary data sources detailing the modelled extent of pyroclastic flows and tephra deposition associated with a large-magnitude (VEI 5) eruption at VdC.
    The undertaking and analysis of a risk perception survey of the population enabled an understanding of the cognitive behaviour of residents towards the volcanic risk. In comparison to the published hazard map, the GIS analysis highlighted an underestimation of lahar hazard on the western flank of VdC and the regional tephra hazard. Vulnerability analysis identified three communities where social deprivation is relatively high, and those with significant elderly and transient populations near the volcano. Furthermore, recognition of the possibility of an eruption in the near future was found to be low across the study region. These results also contributed to the analysis of emergency management procedures and the preparedness of the regional authorities. This multidisciplinary research programme demonstrates the success of applying a GIS platform to varied integrative spatial and temporal analysis. Furthermore, ascertaining the impact of future activity at VdC upon its surrounding populations permits the evaluation of emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction strategies.
    Date of AwardMay 2013
    Original languageEnglish


    • Emergency management
    • Geographic information systems

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