Against the background of heightened awareness of the devastating effects of tsunamis and the potential environmental effects of global warming, this compilation of papers provides a timely reminder of the significance of major volcanic events in a densely populated planet. Sociopolitical culture still operates within short timeframes (‘a week is a long time in politics’) so events that recur at intervals of tens of thousands of years or more impinge barely, or not at all, on the national policies of planners and governments. This makes it all the more important that Earth Science research should include a significant focus on...

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