Volcanic Alert Levels vary across the world


In the event of a volcanic crisis, there often is worldwide interest in status of the volcano, as represented by hazard alert levels for volcanoes, but with the exception of colour codes for aviation, currently there is no standardised international volcano alert levels system.  This is due to:

  • Wide variation in the behaviour of individual volcanoes and in monitoring capabilities, and
  • the different needs of populations, including different languages and symbolism of colours or alert levels. 

National volcano observatories have developed alert level protocols that are regionally variable and differ significantly in detail.


Caution about use of Volcanic Alert Levels

Organizations with interest in natural hazards are strongly cautioned against posting global volcano hazard alerts or eruption "forecasts" from amateur or other groups that do not originate from volcano observatories or regional agencies with both responsibility for and familiarity with those volcanoes.  Posting of hazard alert levels can have major public safety and economic implications, and should not be done lightly.  The data needed to provide alert levels come from onsite and remote monitoring instrumentation and are best evaluated by staff of regional volcano observatories who are the most familiar with activity at their volcanoes.  The responsible observatories and organizations are listed on this World Organization of Volcano Observatory (WOVO) website, and hazard administrators and others are directed to these organizations for information on current volcano alert levels.

Currently, there is no WOVO-endorsed source of worldwide Volcanic Alert Levels, with the exception of aviation colour codes. For those seeking a near real-time overview of current reported activity that incorporates the direct observatory sources in our WOVO directory, we recommend the Weekly Activity Reports compiled by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP) and the U.S. Geological Survey (please see the link in the menu to the left).  The GVP also produces quality-controlled, longer-term monthly summaries of volcanic activity and a catalog of the world's volcanoes and their eruptive histories.