UB to Hold Workshop on Methods for Analyzing Probabilities of Volcanic Hazards

International researchers converge this month to assess methods of risk mitigation.

Release Date: May 12, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will host the international workshop "Probabilistic Analysis of Volcanic Hazards" on May 16-19.

Conference participants will include geologists, volcanologists and statisticians from several nations, who will consider current methodologies used in the analysis of volcanic hazards, including probability, randomness and statistical measures, in order to help define priorities for future research.

The workshop is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, the UB Strategic Strength in Extreme Events and the UB Center for Geohazards Studies.

Talks constituting the workshop's scientific program will be held in the Student Union Theater, UB North Campus. Late afternoon poster sessions will be held in the Student Union Flag Room on the second floor; a hands-on training session in the use of computational tools will take place Thursday morning. Further information about the workshop and registration can be found at http://volcanichazards.cas.buffalo.edu/hazardconference.html.

"Generating probabilistic hazard maps for potentially active volcanoes is recognized as a fundamental step towards the mitigation of risk to vulnerable communities," says Eliza Calder, assistant professor of geology at UB and an organizer of the workshop.

"As a community we are only beginning to understand in a quantitative way the many factors that affect whether or not a particular location is at risk from a volcanic event," says Calder, who specializes in the dynamics of volcanic systems.

"Government institutions ultimately are responsible for generating hazard maps," she says, "but the academic community can assist in this map construction and can bring statistical tools to bear on the analysis."

For this reason, she says it is of critical importance to understand the wide variety of methods that are currently employed to generate such maps, and the respective philosophies on which they are based.

"Understanding the hazards and possible methods to ameliorate those hazards will help public officials as they plan mitigation strategies," says E. Bruce Pitman, professor of mathematics and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, another of the conference organizers.

To this end, the conference will bring together field scientists and international experts in modeling, computing and statistical analysis to discuss probabilistic methods, problems posed by data glut from computer models, uncertainty in digital elevation models and the prediction of extreme events and their consequences.

Confirmed presenters will include Susan Loughlin of the British Geological Survey, Edinburgh, UK; physical volcanologist and geophysicist Chuck Connor, professor of geology, University of South Florida; Steve Self, senior volcanologist, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and Laura Sandri of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

Also Thea Hinks, University of Bristol, UK, a specialist in probabilistic hazard and risk modeling, mapping and communication of risk, and decision-making under uncertainty; statistician and modeling specialist Claudia Furlan, University of Padua; Puneet Singla, UB assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Elaine Spiller, assistant professor of math, statistics and computer science at Marquette University where she specializes in applied probability and simulations; and Gustavo Cordoba, of the University of Narino, Colombia, who has focused on modeling the propagation of turbidity currents.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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