Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (Apr 2010)

The Variable Scale Evacuation Model (VSEM): a new tool for simulating massive evacuation processes during volcanic crises

  • J. M. Marrero,
  • A. García,
  • A. Llinares,
  • J. A. Rodríguez-Losada,
  • R. Ortiz

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 4
pp. 747 – 760


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Volcanic eruptions are among the most awesome and powerful displays of nature's force, constituting a major natural hazard for society (a single eruption can claim thousands of lives in an instant). Consequently, assessment and management of volcanic risk have become critically important goals of modern volcanology. Over recent years, numerous tools have been developed to evaluate volcanic risk and support volcanic crisis management: probabilistic analysis of future eruptions, hazard and risk maps, event trees, etc. However, there has been little improvement in the tools that may help Civil Defense officials to prepare Emergency Plans. Here we present a new tool for simulating massive evacuation processes during volcanic crisis: the Variable Scale Evacuation Model (VSEM). The main objective of the VSEM software is to optimize the evacuation process of Emergency Plans during volcanic crisis. For this, the VSEM allows the simulation of an evacuation considering different strategies depending on diverse impact scenarios. VSEM is able to calculate the required time for the complete evacuation taking into account diverse evacuation scenarios (number and type of population, infrastructure, road network, etc.) and to detect high-risk or "blackspots" of the road network. The program is versatile and can work at different scales, thus being capable of simulating the evacuation of small villages as well as huge cities.