Freysteinn Sigmundsson, geophysicist at the Nordic Volcanological Centre at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences heads an extensive cooperative project involving European universities, institutes and corporations aimed at coordinating watching and research of volcanoes. The goal is to develop new ways to evaluate eruptions and their predictive signs. The University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences and the Icelandic Met Office lead the project. Other Icelandic collaborators are the National Police Commissioner Civil Protection Division, the IT companies Miracle and Samsýn who work in the field of cartography, geographical information, and management systems. Over one hundred European Scientists will probably contribute to the project in the 3.5 years it is planned to run.
The project has been awarded a grant of just under €6,0000,0000 from the EU and contracts with all collaborators are currently being signed. The grant is the highest one ever received by an Icelandic scientist to head a European project. Around one third of the money will be allocated to Icelandic participants.
The project is titled “A European volcanological supersite in Iceland: a monitoring system and network for the future: FutureVolc“. Twenty six parties in nine countries are involved, including leading European universities, various institutes and corporations. The partners share extensive knowledge of various factors involved in volcanic eruptions; including seismology, gas flow from eruptions, meteorology, measurement of crustal movement and volcano watching. The project aims to coordinate the measurement methods of all these varied fields.
The spark of the project is partly the eruption in Eyfjallajökull in 2010 which caused severe disruption of air traffic in Europe. The aim of the Supersite project is to establish a coordinated European volcano supervision system, i.e. develop new methods to evaluate eruption risk and to predict ash distribution from large eruptions. This would lessen the impact of such events on, for example, air traffic, and improve the flow of information to civil protection authorities and the European public.
Iceland was a natural choice for the site since volcanoes here are active, and the volcanic areas varied. By connecting the current watch systems and the latest research Icelandic volcanoes will be monitored almost in real time. These methods can then be applied worldwide.
Work on the project started on 1 October last, and representatives of all the collaborators are currently in Iceland to organize the work ahead.
Photo: Freysteinn Sigmundsson, geophysicist at the Nordic Volcanological Centre, heads one of the largest European projects an Icelandic scientist has led.