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Volcanic hazard research, Guatemala – 2009Samantha Engwell

Samantha Engwell, a Masters student at Bristol University, will conduct a field trip to Guatemala to help assess the risk posed by volcanoes and other associated hazards to the people of Guatemala. Samantha is studying towards an MSc Natural Hazards, having graduated from Edinburgh University. The experiences and lessons learned during her trip in January 2009 will contribute to a similar risk assessment on the Galeras volcano in Colombia.

Samantha explained that “the trip will include mapping a lava flow from the Pacaya volcano that will endanger nearby towns if it continues on its present course. Mapping the flow will allow a risk assessment for the nearby towns to be completed and will also help to educate those living nearby about the dangers of living in the vicinity of a live volcano. The trip will also give me the opportunity to analyse community response to volcanic hazards and evacuation procedures and to see how similar practices may be put in place in Colombia. Guatemala has been affected by a great number of volcanic hazards over recent decades and seeing their effect on nearby communities first hand will allow me to try to help other communities threatened by the same hazards.”

The JWCT provided 300 in December 2008 towards Samantha’s expedition. Matt Willson, a JWCT trustee, said of the expedition, “it compliments Jeremy’s interests well, since he was a keen vulcanologist and had also travelled throughout Guatemala. He would in particular have been interested to read the technical aspects of the research.”


February 2009

Samantha returned from her field research trip in February 2009 explaining that it gave her “the opportunity to see natural hazards in real life and allowed me to study their interactions not only with the environment but also with the Guatemalan community. I was able to learn new techniques using sophisticated methods of analysis and understand what the results meant for the specific volcano I was working on. I was also able to analyse and recognise the deposits left by secondary volcanic hazards and appreciate how dangerous they can be to any village in their path.”

Samantha added “I would also like to say thank you again for enabling me to take part in the trip, it was an amazing experience which will benefit my Masters no end.” See full details in her report


The Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust
a charity registered in England and Wales. No. 1114871