King's College London

Research portal

At the mercy of the mountain? Field stations and the culture of volcanology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Amy Donovan, Clive Oppenheimer

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-171
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number1
PublishedJan 2015

King's Authors


This paper discusses the role of volcano observatories as local sites of knowledge production through the monitoring of volcanoes, and links this with the global production of knowledge in volcanology. The paper initially discusses the institutional geography of volcanological science, and relates this broadly to the geography of science and science studies. It then focuses on interview data to draw some insights into the experiences of observatory and university scientists. Observatories have to provide scientific advice to local authorities and also engage with the international scientific community. They may act as gatekeepers to the field, and as rich sources of baseline data for research projects. As such, they have a pivotal role in the production of knowledge beyond the field sites- and are also involved in the protection of populations. The paper argues that the tension between academic research and volcano monitoring that occurs at many observatories is an important part of the process of knowledge production in volcanology, and also reveals the complex geographies of social responsibility and collaboration that exist around active volcanoes as scientific networks and territorial governance structures interact.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454