Geospatial warning systems
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Authors of
Prof. Dr. V.J. Dietrich
Institute for Mineralogy and Petrography
ETH Zürich

Prof. Dr. Lorenz Hurni
Institute of Cartography
ETH Zürich

Project > Objectives


• Large parts of southern Europe lie in geodynamic active zones and are increasingly vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic activities. Mt. Etna is erupting almost continuously, devastating villages and agricultural land on its southern flanks. Although the last catastrophic volcanic eruption of Vesuvius dates back to 1906, the danger of a reactivation is real.

• Socio-economical aspects, land use, tourist and industrial planning as well as environmental protection increasingly require needs of natural hazard assessment. In this respect, two regions are of major concern: The Nisyros/Kos volcanic field which suffered the largest volcanic eruption in the Eastern Mediterranean 160 000 years ago and the Campanian volcanic province including the Campi Flegrei and Vesuvius, today densely populated by approximately 3.5 million people.

• These quiescent but active volcanoes represent a severe hazard and risk potential and require integrated monitoring, satellite surveying and modelling. Monitored geodetic, seismic and geochemical data together with satellite images are transferred and unified in a coherent way to allow integration into a geo-spatial information system (GIS). A completely new, interactive, and user-friendly software tool has been developed as a Web based multimedia platform encompassing a workflow of graphical 2 to 4D landscape models and all monitored data.

• The “Volcano-Early Warning System” “GEOWARN” is designed on scientific basis to cover the most important gap, the step form green to yellow of the international “Volcano Alert Levels”, which is related to the earliest recognition of reactivation of magmatic activity within the crust that might lead to an volcanic eruption at the surface. In case of reactivation, implementation of real-time monitoring into the early-warning system would then permit volcanic eruption prediction (long-term or the step from yellow to orange) or forecast (the short-term step from orange to red).

• This software package will be implemented at national councils and civil protection agencies to be used as an early-warning system including the basis for hazard assessment, vulnerability and risk studies as well as for and emergency planning. In addition, the new information system incorporates educational information accessible to the public in order to generate awareness.




Several methodologies are applied in a completely new way to achieve the necessary results.

Software screenshots

Take a look at the software graphical user interface.



Watch illustrative movies of the project.

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