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Title: An analysis of factors influencing volcanic risk communication on two islands in the Lesser Antilles
Author: Crosweller, Helen Sian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2686 6750
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis presents a comparative study into factors influencing volcanic risk communication on the islands of St Vincent and Dominica in the Lesser Antilles. A strong focus was placed on inter-island differences that could be attributed to variations in hazard experience. Communication about volcanic hazards is currently focused on awareness raising and encouraging preparedness in an attempt to minimise the impact of future eruptions. This is often a one-way `top-down' process with the content being determined by what the `experts' believe the public need to know. This approach has been found to be ineffective in communicating information about a range of hazards as the expert view of the lay person's knowledge is often inaccurate. The mental models approach provides a structured methodology for identifying and comparing expert and lay views to target future information more effectively. This research constitutes the first use of the mental models approach to volcanic hazards to date. A mixed methods approach was used, with qualitative data from semi-structured interviews used to initially explore the issues, followed by a quantitative questionnaire to investigate these issues in further detail and test for their prevalence within the populations. A wide range of topics were covered including the behaviour of volcanic systems and associated hazards, sources of communication, and levels of trust in a range of actors. This thesis finds that the populations on these islands have a reasonable idea of the volcanic hazards and the expected safest locations during an eruption. They are aware of uncertainties involved in predicting volcanic activity. However, this has not had a detrimental effect on trust in scientists and hazard managers; this remains high on both islands. Personal sources are afforded greater trust and utilised more often on St Vincent. A number of `risky beliefs' exist in the population, which could have dangerous consequences during a crisis. Many of these appear to be related to hazard experience. Recommendations as to how these issues should be tackled in future campaigns are discussed. Significant inter-island differences suggest that volcanic hazards information should be context specific in order for it to be most effective
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available