The complex consequences of volcanic warnings: Trust, risk perception and experiences of businesses near Mount Zao following the 2015 unrest period

Amy Donovan, Anawat Suppasri, Miwa Kuri, Tetsuya Torayashiki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper reports results from a study of business owners carried out in 2016 in the region around Mount Zao, an active stratovolcano in Japan. In April 2015, Mount Zao experienced a period of unrest consistent with magma rising in the volcanic system. This led to alerts and public awareness campaigns, which provoked extensive media interest. This project used a survey and 12 semi-structured interviews to examine the opinions of business people on how the crisis was managed, and how it affected them. It also examined the perceptions of risk and the stories that were told about the potential eruption. Business owners who thought that an eruption would be harmful and that forecasting eruptions is difficult were more likely to be trusting. In general, respondents were very unaware of the risk from the volcano and the hazards that it could produce. The data also show that the impacts of disasters and even warning periods can cascade, much as hazards do: respondents noted that the crisis period effectively extended the time it has taken them to recover from the impact of the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, or brought them low just as they recovered. With increased vulnerability, the warning period at Zao exacerbated their situation, and this was not helped by a lack of scientific information and some perceived “rumours”. The paper suggests that public engagement via participatory strategies would be beneficial in reducing risk in this region, because it would enable stakeholders to own their risk and understand it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume27
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar

Keywords

  • Disaster impacts
  • Risk perception
  • Tourist industry
  • Volcanic risk
  • Volcanic unrest
  • Volcano warnings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Safety Research
  • Geology

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