BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Volcanologists now have their own online
network: VHub.org, which promotes collaboration among volcano
researchers and community partners by providing a place to share
everything from eruption data to ash cloud simulations.
The website, created by the University at Buffalo's volcanology
group, represents an innovative approach to facilitating
partnerships around the world. Funding for the project comes from
the National Science Foundation (NSF).
On VHub, visitors can access a volcano resource warehouse that
houses educational materials, data from past studies, and even
computer simulations for modeling eruptions and ash cloud movement.
Registered users can join online research groups, where members can
share news and documents through discussion boards, digital
archives and email lists.
So far, about 630 users have registered on VHub -- a sizeable
chunk of the worldwide volcanology community, said Greg Valentine,
the UB researcher leading the VHub project. The site launched in
"VHub is growing, and the momentum's definitely building,"
Valentine said. "To have 630 registered users is actually quite
amazing, because there may be only 2,000 or 3,000 volcanologists in
VHub's target audience includes scientists, educators and
government officials -- anyone who is studying volcanoes or working
to reduce the harm of eruptions. One goal of the forum is to put
new tools developed by volcanologists into the hands of government
agencies and observatories that protect communities from volcanic
"Some volcano observatories are literally just a person with
binoculars in a shack," said Valentine, a geology professor who
heads UB's Center for Geohazards Studies. "What we're trying to do
is make advanced simulation tools developed at universities
accessible even for observatories that don't have extensive
Simulations available on VHub include Titan2D, which was
developed at UB and models volcanic avalanches and pyroclastic
flows, and TEPHRA2, which was developed at the University of South
Florida and models ash plume movements.
VHub also gives experts studying volcanoes an easy way to stay
in touch. One registered user is Karoly Nemeth, a senior research
officer in the Volcanic Risk Solutions research group at New
Zealand's Massey University.
Nemeth studies the eruptive mechanism of monogenetic volcanoes,
and helps coordinate the International Association of Volcanology
and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior's (IAVCEI) Commission on
Monogenetic Volcanism. After hearing about VHub through
volcanologists including Valentine, Nemeth logged on and
discovered, to his surprise, that the site was extremely
"Instead of being a static website, it is truly user-driven,"
said Nemeth, who saw potential for using VHub not only to bring
more visibility to his research, but to connect with other
volcanologists in a meaningful way.
Toward that end, he started a VHub group that serves as the
official website for the IAVCEI Commission on Monogenetic
Volcanism. Through the group, which now has 50 members, Nemeth
posts information and data that researchers in the field can
"I was under pressure to find a host website for the commission
and tried many ways to have our website be user-friendly, and then
VHub provided the perfect solution," Nemeth said. "I highly
recommend it for other commission and/or expert groups in
Nemeth says while VHub is still fairly new, the site could have
a big impact on volcanology in coming years. He has received
positive feedback about his communications on VHub, and he hopes
that the site will become a place where important scientific
discussions are triggered.
UB's main partners on building VHub include the University of
South Florida and Michigan Technological University.
Representatives of universities, government agencies and
observatories around the world have contributed ideas and advice as
the site has developed.
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.
About VHub: http://vhub.org/about
About Volcano Studies at UB: http://www.geology.buffalo.edu/research/volcanostudies.shtml