Assessing personal exposures to volcanic hazards on a global scale
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Due to Earth’s growing population, every day more people are exposed to volcanic hazards. This exposure of humans to volcanic hazards, the personal exposure to volcanic hazards, can be assessed by many different methods. What remains uncertain is what assessment methods are best suited for a global assessment of the personal exposure to volcanic hazards. The aim of this thesis is to determine the best suited method for the assessment of exposure to volcanic hazards. This method is tested with the use of a case study on a continental area, Central America. If the personal exposure can be compared on a global scale, countries around the world will be able to exchange volcanic hazard management strategies easier. Hereby, mapping out the personal exposure to volcanic hazard on a global scale will contribute to the reduction of populations at risk for volcanic hazards. The assessment of personal exposure to volcanic hazards is divided into sub-topics; the driving mechanisms for people to life in the vicinity of volcanoes and different volcanic hazards, different methods to assess personal exposure to volcanism on a global scale and testing the best suited method. The assessment of different levels of volcanic explosivity was studied with the use of the VEI, the spatial assessment of volcanic hazards is investigated by explaining the five most frequently used volcanic hazards map types; geology-based maps, integrated qualitative maps, modelling-based hazard maps, probabilistic hazard maps and administrative maps. The three most used personal exposure assessment methods, the PEI, VPI and the VRC are discussed. The method considered best suited for the assessment of personal exposure to volcanic hazards on a global scale is the Population Exposure Index. The case study concludes that five out of the 110 volcanoes in Central America are assigned to a PEI-7, which is the highest level of the Population Exposure Index.