S4.3: Where history, archaeology, and geology intercept: multidisciplinary approaches to document the chronology, impacts, and legacy of volcanic events


Christopher Harpel

US Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, United States of America

Karen Fontijn

Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Florian Schwandner

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, United States of America

Geoscientists, historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists all recognize the impact of volcanic activity on human populations, yet often work in isolation from one another. Volcanic events intersect all these disciplines and are often recorded in more than one medium. An event may be recorded in a culture’s oral history or in written records pre-dating European contact that exist in some non-European cultures. Such documents, however, can be physically fragile, not compiled into centralized archives, difficult to access, and in languages that require specialized knowledge to read and interpret. The advanced trade networks and complex colonial histories in many locations further resulted in documents recording such events but many such documents are dispersed, sequestered, and forgotten in regional or European archives. Volcanic events emplace characteristic deposits or leave other traces that are evident in archaeological and geological studies.Each data source, whether it be an archival document, story from an oral history,or deposit, records unique aspects and details of an event. At many volcanoes, detailed chronologies of activity and eruptions do not exist. Yet, the hazards and impacts presented by such volcanoes require that we better understand their history. Research applying multidisciplinary methods provides a much richer and more detailed understanding of the number, timing, circumstances, and societal impact of such eruptions. We invite presentations discussing research combining geological, historical, anthropological, archaeological, or other methods to better understand volcanic eruptions and their related phenomena; to develop chronologies of such events; or to understand the societal impact of such past events.

Core connection to societal risk mitigation: The preserved geological, archaeological,and historical records of volcanic events combined provide a more complete understanding of how volcanic events unfold before, during, and after eruptions –of central relevance to adequate risk mitigation and planning in daily practice at observatories and crisis response.

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