Building Local Capacities for Monitoring Eruptive and Catastrophic Landslide Activity at Pacaya Volcano (Guatemala), through International Partnership and Collaboration

Geoscientists Without Borders
Volcano Preparedness Projects

Pacaya volcano near Guatemala City is one of the country's most active volcanoes. It is located in the Pacaya National park and serves as a tourist site for nearly 25,000 people each year.

Communities close to the volcano are exposed to potentially lethal hazards associated with explosive eruptions. Despite the potentially high impact that a large eruption could have on nearby communities and Guatemala City (3 – 4 million inhabitants), the only instrumental, real-time continuous monitoring of the volcano is done through a single short period seismic station. Providing the local observatory with expanded instrumental capacity for monitoring the activity of Pacaya volcano could increase the chances of a successful early warning during a crisis, helping authorities and the local population to make decisions about the access of visitors to the park, and the potential evacuation of the closest communities. Datasets generated by the proposed instrumental monitoring system could also be used for academic studies, by Guatemalan and international universities.

Status In Progress

Statement of Work

The main purpose of this work is to help improving the monitoring and forecasting capacity at Pacaya volcano, as a requirement to improve the chances of a successful crises management in case of a large explosive eruption in the future. We expect to contribute to this through the following specific goals:

  • Improve INSIVUMEH's volcanic activity monitoring capacity for Pacaya volcano by providing them with seismic and deformation monitoring equipment.
  • Establish a technical cooperation link between INSIVUMEH and the San Carlos University to increase the analysis and interpretation capacity for data produced by the Pacaya monitoring network.
  • Provide INSIVUMEH personnel and San Carlos University students with basic training and tools for the processing and analysis of seismic and deformation data.
  • Provide the Pacaya National Park visitor center with a display of information on the volcanic hazards and real-time streaming of data plots from the Pacaya monitoring network, as a local outreach and education tool.
  • Provide the Pacaya National Park personnel with basic training and literature on the volcanic hazards and monitoring network topics, for them to replicate the message to the Park visitors and broader public.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Thomas Oommen, Michigan Technological University  
GeoHazards International

Co-principal Investigators

Dr. Rudiger Escobar Wolf and Dr. Gregory Waite, Michigan Technological University

Team members

Michigan Tech: Lauren Schaefer, Frederica Lanza, Brianna Lopez
INSIVUMEH: Eddy Sanchez Bennet, Gustavo Chigna
Pacaya Volcano National Park: Mr Humberto Morales, Park Director
San Carlos University: Professor Omar Flores Belteton, Professor Julio Luna Aroche
Instituto Geografico Nacional
Coordinadora Nacional Para la Reduccion de Desastres
U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program
International Volcano Monitoring Fund


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