Archiving 30,000 years of eruptive history to raise volcanic risk awareness in Arequipa, Peru

An INGEMMET scientist in front of the stratigraphic section that the project will immortalize. ©J. Morin/ ERC Imagine
An INGEMMET scientist in front of the stratigraphic section that the project will immortalize. ©J. Morin/ ERC Imagine


Arequipa, Peru

Synopsis and Position

Arequipa (Peru) is a highly vulnerable city in the face of volcanic hazards, exposed to potential devastating explosive activity of Misti volcano. Yet risk awareness is extremely low, as nobody has in mind a recent eruption.

During its past activity, Misti volcano has deposited layers of volcanic products that can be partially found in different parts of the territory. In 2022, the construction of a road uncovered an incredible and unique ~5-meters high outcrop with 21 layers of deposits, which represent the last 30.000 last years of Misti activity.

Presented to the public, this outcrop will be a unique opportunity to raise risk awareness on both the magnitude and the frequency of the Misti explosive eruptions, and thus to better engage with disaster reduction measures.

Objectives and Methods

Our goal is to archive this outcrop to preserve it before it is severely degraded during the next rainy season starting in January 2023, as it is made of very loose material that may not withstand heavy rains.

To do this, we will impregnate the stratigraphic deposits by “painting” the outcrop with an epoxy resin. Once dried, the epoxy forms hard patches that can be removed for relocation. We plan to move this outcrop to the Risk Awareness Museum of the Civil Protection in Arequipa, and to the INGEMMET Volcanic Observatory, for study and public display.

We will produce audio-visual contents describing the archival process and the outcrop itself, with different levels of understanding (from very basic description to high jargon for students and geology specialists). The audiovisual content will be an interactive reading guide to the epoxy outcrop on display in the museum, available on a screen located near the outcrop and online through a QR code. It will allow the scientist and risk managers to better communicate with the public to raise risk awareness, which is essential to be better prepared to deal with a future eruption in Arequipa.

Workshops and Events

Inauguration with stakeholders and the public, with realisation of a survey to understand how the information is received and could be improved (by April 2023, INDECI museum and INGEMMET in Arequipa)


    • Half-day meeting to finalise the fieldwork preparation and technical aspects of the implementation at the INDECI museum (September 2022, virtual)
    • Test of various epoxy resins to see which the best allows to ‘capture’ the outcrop (October 2022, on the Misti slopes)
    • Archiving the outcrop and creating materials for the audio-visual contents (first half of December 2022, on the Misti slopes)
    • Integration of final audio-visual contents, permanent exhibition of the outcrop ready (by August 2023, INDECI museum and INGEMMET in Arequipa)
Clockwise Photos 1 to 5 testing the epoxy method in Chaitén, Chile, all ©K. Holmberg; Photo 6 Recto verso of archive deposits in Southern Chile © J. Morin / ERC Imagine
Photo captions from left to right: Yrma Linares and Nélida Manrique welcoming visitors to the INDECI museum in Arequipa; The Misti volcano, which dominates the city of Arequipa, has produced many violent explosive eruptions. The stratigraphic archive that we will produce will record the events of the last 30,000 years; Observation of the section in May 2022, with Kevin Cueva, volcanologist at the INGEMMET to reflect on the technical challenges that will arise and the messages to convey to the public. All © J. Morin / ERC Imagine

Arequipa, Peru