Galeras volcano, located in southwestern Colombia, imposes several hazards on the surrounding population: pyroclastic flows, lahars, ashfall, and shock waves. The current hazard map shows three zones: high, medium, and low (see A. D. Hurtado Artunduaga and G. P. Cortés Jiménez, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 77, 89–100, 1997). The pyroclastic flow hazard on this map defines the Zone of High Volcanic Hazard (ZAVA) for civil authorities.
Current activity of Galeras has provoked two contentious issues related to hazard management: (1) Decision makers announce an evacuation order of ZAVA whenever the volcanic alert reaches a high level, and (2) the Colombian government initiated a relocation program for the inhabitants within ZAVA (Colombian Decrees-Laws 4106 and 3905). However, communities within ZAVA refuse to obey both the evacuation orders and the relocation process. To help resolve this situation, the University of Nariño (Colombia) and the State University of New York at Buffalo organized a workshop, which was sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation. A daily average of 92 people attended, including residents of ZAVA, decision makers, Colombian technical and scientific personnel, international scientists and researchers, students, and academics from the University of Nariño.