The 1997 Sergey Soloviev Medal is awarded to Franco Barberi for his invaluable scientific, technical and political contributions in the evaluation and reduction of natural hazards and risks.
Franco Barberi is professor of volcanology in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Pisa, Italy, president of the National Group of Volcanology of the Italian National Research Council. In 1975 he and his French co-worker Jacques Varet were the first recipients of the scientific Wager Prize awarded by the International Association of Volcanology for their research of volcanism of the Afar region (East Africa).
His scientific activity, initially directed to the understanding of the fundamental problems of the volcanic process, has then moved toward researches oriented to the mitigation of natural hazards; he has launched both in Italy and at international level many projects and initiatives for volcanic disaster reduction. Another relevant activity was devoted to research in the geothermal energy field.
With regard to national projects Franco Barberi launched the Italian Geodynamics Project (IGP) in 1976 and created the Commission for High Risks in 1981 and became the chairman of the volcanic hazard sector of this commission. In the last ten years Franco Barberi and his colleague have been actively involved in several national volcanic crises, such as, e.g., the unrest at the Phlegrean Fields or the eruptions of Etna and Stromboli.
With regard to his international activities France Barberi has been a chairman of the IAVCEI commission of the Mitigation of Volcanic Disasters and of the coordination committee of the Volcanology Network of the European Science Foundation, where he launched the EEC/ESF project EVOP for the miniaturization and cost-reduction of volcano-monitoring instruments.
With respect to his activities in developing countries Franco Barberi has conducted the Afar Rift project of a seismically and volcanologically very active region in Ethiopia and Djibouti and the investigations of the killing of 2000 people by a gas cloud in the lake Nyos region of Cameroon or the possible eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano on the Antilles. Moreover, he organized various training courses on volcanology and on volcanic and seismic hazard assessment studies in Latin America.
Franco Barberi has also developed original methods of applied volcanology for the exploration of geothermal resources, both in the preliminary phase of the identification of the promising zones and in the following phase of deep exploration and development. These techniques have been successfully applied to many areas in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Kenya, Nicaragua, Panama, Santo Domingo, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. These new methods have been transferred to technicians of developing countries by means of postgraduate schools and workshops promoted by international organizations.
Newsletter 63, 32, 1997