The 2024 Plinius Medal is awarded to Jacopo Selva for his transformative research in quantitative seismic, volcanic and tsunami hazard modelling, leading to relevant applied solutions used in civil protection and emergency management.
Jacopo Selva is Associate Professor at the University of Naples ‘Federico II’, Italy, where he teaches courses on ‘Volcanic hazards’ and ‘Seismology and seismic hazards’. Prior to his current position, he worked as a researcher at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Italy, as a contract professor at the University of Bologna and the University of Perugia, Italy, and as a consultant at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Italian National Tsunami Warning Centre and National Responsible for volcanic hazards at INGV.
Selva’s scientific interests include probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment, probabilistic seismic hazard assessment, probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment, multi-hazard and multi-risk assessments, quantification of uncertainties in hazard and risk assessments, precursor patterns of volcanic eruptions, and short- and long-term interactions between earthquakes, and between earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
His main contributions are in the fields of probabilistic volcanic hazard assessment and probabilistic seismic hazard assessment, and more recently in the field of probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment. Selva has transformed these fields by introducing novel quantitative methods integrated into a more general framework. He has also contributed to the development of probabilistic forecasting and hazard models that properly account for and propagate uncertainties, and that integrate different types of information, such as physical models, observations, and expert opinion. He has developed key tools for long- and short-term forecasting of eruptions and tsunami inundation. He is one of the developers of the Bayesian Event Tree for eruption forecasting and the volcanic hazard model, and is the principal author of the probabilistic tsunami forecast method. Probabilistic tsunami forecasting explicitly accounts for data and forecast uncertainties and allows forecasts to be linked in a rational decision warning system. This is a major advance in defining how uncertainties can be used for rational decision making.
Selva’s work has important implications for risk assessment and mitigation. He has successfully led several working groups for the Italian Department of Civil Protection, bringing together researchers from INGV and Italian academia. In 2015, he was the co-ordinator of the working group that conducted the scientific hazard assessment for the definition of the official “yellow zone” of the evacuation plan for the tephra fallout from the Campi Flegrei volcano in Naples, Italy, one of the highest risk volcanic areas in the world. In 2016-2017, he coordinated two working groups dedicated to the establishment of the scientific basis for the definition of reference scenarios and alert levels for the island of Ischia, and for the island of Vulcano, Italy. As principal investigator or task leader, Selva also been involved in eight projects related to natural hazards.
In addition, Selva has supervised several students and early career researchers, including Masters students, a PhD candidate, interns, and postdoctoral fellows. He is the author or co-author of over 100 papers in leading international peer-reviewed journals, including numerous high-impact papers.
In conclusion, Jacopo Selva has conducted fundamental interdisciplinary transformative research in the field of natural hazards, with outstanding contributions ranging from hazard assessment of volcanic phenomena to seismic and tsunami hazard modelling.