Stratigraphy of volcanic memory: Sociocultural dimensions of volcanic risk in the Southern Andes, Chile

Francisca Vergara Pinto, Andrés Marín

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on communities that reoccupy territories affected by volcanic eruptions to extend understanding of people's social appropriation of environments exposed to natural hazards. We take as a case study three rural settlements affected by several eruptions from the Carran-Los Venados and Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic systems (Southern Andes, Chile). Using an ethnographic observation scale, we engage with local actors' experiences during volcanic eruptions and quiescence. We identified three factors shaping people's decision to reoccupy volcanic territories: the reproduction of a peasant habitus, a stratigraphy of memories and the acceptability of volcanic risk. The results illustrate the construction of human–volcano interactions built over generations, framed in socio-volcanic cycles faced from a habitus of precariousness. However, after recalling their past vulnerabilities, the community imagines overcoming the impacts of volcanism from a different habitus based on living as peasants in conditions of greater social equity. From this, we discuss how volcanic imaginaries interrogate the past, motivate a more accurate understanding of volcanic risk and support the projections of communities about their human–volcano coexistence despite exposure to hazards. Finally, we posit the concept of ethnovolcanology to understand the tension between place attachment and disaster risk as a persistent intersection of human and geological forces.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
Early online date12 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2023


  • Volcanic risk
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Rural communities
  • Southern Andes
  • Volcanic imaginaries
  • Ethnovolcanology
  • Chile


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