Development of an IT-based Volcanic Disasters Response System

Development of an IT-based Volcanic Disasters Response System


If a volcano as big as Mount Baekdu erupted again, the impact on political, social, and economic is beyond imagine. Therefore, there is a urgent need to develop an integrated volcano disaster response system in order to minimize any potential volcano damage in the future.

In Baekdu Mountain, earthquakes, which are the signs of volcanic activity, have been observed occurring about 10 to 15 times monthly since 2002. The Baekdu Mountain in Korea was the site of a big volcanic explosion back in 969 AD, which had a widespread impact for more than 1000 sq km and reached as far as the East Sea in Korea and Hokkaido in Southern Japan.

Fig. 1 Location of magma and frequency of volcanic earthquake on Baekdu Mountain

Small-scale volcanic eruptions do not cause much damage. However, if a volcanic eruption as huge as mega explosion on ancient Mount Baekdu happened again, it will have much larger political, social, and economic impact. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop an integrated volcano disaster response system in order to minimize any potential volcano damage. Korea Institute of Construction Technology and JB Technology conducted a study which is aims to provide development strategies and design of the system. The system compiles diverse volcanic disaster damage prediction simulation technologies based on spatial information, and presents management standards and response manuals to enable responses by region and type of damage. Also, they provided the pilot system to support decision-making for disaster-prevention specialists.

First, in order to develop the volcanic disaster response system, the National Emergency Management disaster prevention system and a related system (Earthquake Disaster Response System) were studied and analyzed; these systems will later become the volcanic disaster response system’s operating structure. The work processes were defined based on the results of this analysis and volcanic disaster response architecture was defined. After studying and constructing the necessary DB, a pilot system was developed.

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Flow chart of research


Disasters that occur during a general volcanic eruption are caused by direct damage such as pyroclastic flows, volcanic mudflows, and volcanic floods, and indirectly damaged by volcanic ash. It is expected that even part of China and North Korean regions direct and indirectly will be affected by the damages from the eruptions. A damage prediction simulation studies have been provided to help construct response systems related to Mt. Baekdu eruptions. It is predicted that Mt. Baekdu volcanic lava would flow downhill towards China and spread across the North Korean region within nine hours and will reach the Japanese Islands in just 12 hours. It also will cause a severe hit the air transportation in Northeast Asia, the heart of the global economic engines.

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Simulation of volcanic eruption in Mt. Baekdu (National Disaster Management Institute report, 2011)

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Fig. 2 Range of volcanic ash damage (National Disaster Management Institute report, 2011)

Many studies and proposals have already taken place which has identified and demonstrated the necessity for an integrated response system that can comprehensively perform and monitor disaster, response early and a systematic recovery system.

Response system for volcanic disasters

The volcanic disaster response system performs prevention whereby it monitors the volcanic activities and maintains close connections with related agencies. This system also must perform a preparation plan based on real situation scenario and predict the level of volcanic damage at early stages – the volcanic activity is typically a precursor to a volcanic eruption.

During the subsequent volcanic eruption, direct rapid and accurate response measures and predictions must be performed through real-time and the system must be able to support final aggregate confirmation and recovery tasks for damage situations that arise in the recovery period after the eruption.

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Fig. 3 Definition of support work for volcanic disaster response

When the eruptions detected through volcanic monitoring system, a decision-maker chooses and then computes the most accurate damage prediction results through a real-time simulation when the eruption is imminent or during the start of the emergency. With the results inferred through the third simulation, the disaster situation must be expressed virtually through a 2D/3D GIS system. Subsequently, the damage estimate information is extracted from the disaster prediction and disaster estimate database and is compiled and analyzed for use in disaster relief response by field and region. Finally, the decision-maker establishes and implements a comprehensive response strategy based on the situation response database.

The volcanic disaster response system architecture is derived based on analysis of the task processes. Externally, it is linked with relevant agencies such as the Meteorological Agency and National Emergency Management Agency and internally, it is composed of a comprehensive damage prediction module, decision-making support module, GIS visualization module, and damage prediction Database

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Fig. 4 Architecture of volcanic disaster response system

Volcano disaster-related GIS database

Satellite image map, digital elevation models, digital map, land coverage map, water system map, land relief map, azimuthal projection map, and residential density map were created, enabling their use as simulation input data and system service maps.

Table 1 Basic GIS DB for system


Covered Area


Rectangle Size

Region 1

North Korea Area

Satellite Image(0.5m), DEM(10m), Digital map(1/5,000-1/25,000), Land cover map(Medium class level), Watershed map(1/25,000), Gradient map(20m), Azimuth map(20m), Residential density map(1/25,000)

1,600km×1,600km (Center: Mt. Baekdu)

South Korea Area

Satellite Image(0.5m), DEM(1m-5m), Digital map(1/1,000-1/5,000), Land cover map(small class level), Watershed map(1/5,000), Gradient map(5m), Azimuth map(5m), Residential density map(1/5,000), 3D-model(Seoul and 6 major metropolitan cities)

Part of Japan & China

Satellite Image(15m), DEM(90m), Land cover map(Large class level), Watershed map(1/100,000), Gradient map(90m), Azimuth map(90m), Residential density map(1/100,000)

Region 2

Mt. Baekdu

Satellite Image(0.5m), DEM(10m), Land cover map(small class level), Displacement change map(50m), Temperature change map(50m), Digital map(1/5,000), Watershed map(1/5,000), Gradient map(10m), Azimuth map(10m), Residential density map(1/5,000)

100km×100km (Center: Mt. Baekdu)

Development of a pilot system

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Fig. 5 Volcanic disaster response pilot system(monitoring UI)

A volcanic disaster response pilot system is developed by defining work processes, establishing a basic GIS Database, proposed system design. Spring MVC, Spring iBatis, and PostgreSQL are used as development environments and are built with the standard framework architecture (Ver 2.5) in order to prepare an electronic government framework base.

Furthermore, the results of the damage prediction, illustrated enable statistical calculations for each damage area or region and can be used by the relevant government agencies and each local government. This system also allows for measurement of the amount of damage incurred and accumulated amount of damage per hour.

Fig. 6 Volcanic disaster response pilot system( result of volcanic ash diffusion simulation)

The pilot system developed in this study does not implement all of the functions that have been designed, since the pilot system is developed to prioritize the implementation of the necessary major functions. As a result, the development of additional functions will be necessary in the future. There is a need to expand the spatial scope to the entire earth and not just East Asia in order to utilize this system as a global system. Furthermore, the system must be enhanced so it can support decision-makers to prepare for a variety of possibilities by calculating and comparing a variety of results using different models simultaneously, rather than simply using just one type of modeling as at present.


This research presented a volcanic disaster response system development plan based on spatial information that allows rapid response to the risk of an imminent volcanic disaster at Mt. Baekdu and described the development of a pilot system. We studied in detail the related preceding research in detail and analyzed the NMDA disaster prevention system and other relevant systems (i.e., earthquake disaster response systems) into which this system would be loaded. Then, we derived a pilot system by defining the work processes and system designs. This system requires additional verification, particularly through additional revision and supplementation tests, and will become a disaster response system similar to the existing earthquake disaster response system within the response and recovery field of the National Disaster Management System (NDMS).

As seen in the large number of existing volcanic disaster simulations, volcanic disasters occur in an instant and cause massive human and physical damage across vast areas. The volcano disaster response system developed through this research was constructed based on spatial information, thus enabling it to be used to monitor a diverse array of processes (e.g., from volcanic disaster monitoring to occurrence predictions). This is a rare quality in disaster systems globally; therefore, it is expected that this system will be of great use in volcanic disaster response tasks and will minimize damage due to volcanic disasters in areas adjacent to Korea, including Mt. Baekdu. We believe that it will be possible to export this system to other countries in which volcanic eruptions happening regularly, such as Central and South American countries and Indonesia.