Mathematical modelling of pyroclastic flows: the E' VIVO! website
The reports of the international Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) that estimate the probabilities of future volcanic events during the Soufriθre Hills volcano (SHV) eruption appear regularly on the MVO website. These often include maps showing the results of various types of mathematical modelling of pyroclastic flows (PFs) following dome collapses and explosions of various sizes. The nuts and bolts of these models belong to the world of professional mathematicians and their powerful computers. But a non-mathematical Montserrat resident has one spectacular and animated window into this modelling that underpins many recommendations and decisions involving MVO, GoM and Government House. This is a website with the curious name of E' VIVO! [http://evivo.pi.ingv.it].
Several Italian volcanoes have had very destructive eruptions during historic times. Vesuvius is of course the most notorious of these and the story of the devastation of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD (partly by PFs and surges) is constantly retold on TV and other media. The same region now has a population of millions and the possibility of another violent eruption in such a crowded area haunts both Italian volcano scientists and their governments. The mathematical modelling is explained in detail (pages of equations!) on the E' VIVO! website and used to illustrate and predict how a PF resulting from a Vesuvius explosion might develop. In this way, the E' VIVO! website takes its readers far beyond our very simple account of pyroclastic flows and surges. Incidentally, the modellers do not separate pyroclastic flows and surges seeing them mathematically as a single phenomenon.
Until 2008 there was just one major problem for most Montserrat residents wanting to read the E' VIVO! website; it was written in Italian! Therefore, during the preparation of our website, we have collaborated with the creators of E' VIVO!, Micol Todesco and Augusto Neri, to translate their website into English. Although E' VIVO! is aimed at explaining and modelling the threat posed by Vesuvius, the general discussions of PFs include several photographs of the Montserrat eruption. The big difference between the mathematical models dissected on the E' VIVO! website and the ones used in the Montserrat SAC reports is that the former are in two dimensions, whilst the latter are 3-D. The creators of E' VIVO! are working on a CD explaining and illustrating the 3-D modelling. Meanwhile, if your mathematics are good enough and you really, really want to see the models used to predict the PFs and surges resulting from various sorts of dome collapses and explosions on Montserrat, you will just have to be very nice to MVO staff and arrange a viewing there!