Fireside tales: understanding experiences of previous eruptions among other factors that influence the decision to evacuate from eruptive activity of Volcán de Fuego

Ailsa Naismith, Teresa Armijos Burneo, Edgar Antonio Barrios Escobar, I.Mathew Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Volcán de Fuego (Guatemala) is an active stratovolcano capable of large (VEI -≥2) explosive eruptions like that of 3rd June 2018, which triggered pyroclastic flows that devastated the community of San Miguel Los Lotes and caused hundreds of fatalities and severe long-term socio-economic impacts. Future volcanic risk mitigation efforts are likely to involve temporary evacuation of local communities, the success of which requires co-operation between locals, scientists, and decision-makers. However, locals' experiences of eruptive activity, and how these experiences influence their responses to evacuation, have not been studied in detail. In 2019 we conducted an investigation of these themes through qualitative research methods involving semi-structured interviews that focussed on direct experience as opposed to volcanic risk perception. We found substantial differences between scientists' and locals' observations of Fuego's activity. Furthermore, a clear disparity emerged between communities on Fuego's west and east flanks in terms of direct prior experience of eruptions and communication with authorities. These findings have serious implications for future evacuation efforts at Fuego and at other highly populated active volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-226
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020


  • Knowledge
  • Pyroclastic flows
  • Risk
  • Self-evacuation
  • Trust
  • Volcán de Fuego

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