Peppoloni, S., Woo, G., Martí, J., & Di Capua, G. (2023). Geoethics: The Missing Piece in the Separation of Responsibility Between Volcanologists and Decision-Makers BT - Advances in Natural Hazards and Volcanic Risks: Shaping a Sustainable Future (A. Malheiro, F. Fernandes, & H. I. Chaminé (eds.); pp. 19–23). Springer Nature Switzerland.
In a volcanic crisis, authorized decision-makers must balance the social and economic costs of mitigating actions, such as evacuation, against the potential human losses if such actions are insufficient. In making their decisions, advice is needed from volcanologists on the eruption probability. Therefore, there should be a clear separation in the roles of volcanologists and decision-makers; the volcanologists should advise on the volcano hazard and alternative potential scenarios but refrain from involvement in making decisions. Currently, volcanologists are responsible for setting volcano alert levels. Given the small handful of distinct alert levels, there is inherent ambiguity and substantial uncertainty in the interpretation of individual levels. Furthermore, changing an alert level may automatically trigger actions by decision-makers. This would violate the principle of separation of responsibility and may result in unwelcome pressure being applied to volcanologists. Just as physicians can invoke medical ethics in resisting pressure to alter their advice, so volcanologists can invoke geoethics. Freedom to abide by their scientific beliefs is a basic tenet of geoethics.