OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Cost of Volcanic Eruptions

 

How much does an eruption cost the government, private companies, and local residents? Here are a couple of estimates for the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens and the 1955 eruption of Kilauea. Plus the total cost for the current eruption of Kilauea and the 1989-1990 eruption of Redoubt.  It's a good thing we spend money on something called "volcano monitoring..."

 


Major Losses from the May 18, 1980 Eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Sector Federal Private State Local Total %Total
Forestry $168.0 $218.1 $63.7 --- $449.8 46.6
Clean-up 307.9 9.7 5.0 $41.3 363.0 37.4
Property 43.6 44.8 2.5 16.0 106.9 11.0
Agriculture -- 39.1 -- -- 39.1 4.0
Income -- 8.9 -- -- 8.9 0.9
Transport -- -- -- 2.1 2.1 0.2
Total $518.6 $320.6 $71.2 $59.4 $969.8 --
Percent of total 53.0 33.1 7.3 6.1 -- --

In millions of dollars.

From Washington State Department of Commerce and Economic development Research Division.

Note: Smart's Insurance Bulletin, May 18, 1981 reported over 40,000 insurance claims were filed, 166 recovery loans were applied for and $215 million was spent on dredging rivers as of fall, 1981.

 


Losses from the 1955 Lava Flows from Kilauea, Hawaii.

Item Cost
Land (3,000 acres) 600,000
10,670,40 tons of sugar at $116.25 per ton $1,240,434
Molasses at $10.00 per ton 26,676
Conditional payments 153,324
Fruits and vegetables 180,103
Buildings 58,055
Equipment 36,702
Livestock 1,209
Olaa Sugar Co. roads (replacement costs) 23,250
Planter's roads (replacement costs) 10,700
Federal Aid Roads 52,000
Country roads (replacement costs) 212,250
Total $2,594,703
Insurance reimbursement 716,000
-- $1,878,703

Cost is in 1955 dollars.

From Murton and Shimabukuro, 1972, Human Adjustment to Volcanic Hazard in Pun a District, Hawaii.

 


Losses from the 1983-1991 Lava Flows from Kilauea, Hawaii.

The current eruption has destroyed 181 residences (16 from 1983-1986, 165 from 1986-1991). Other structures lost include the Wahaula Visitor center and maintanence shop, Royal Gardens community center, Mauna Kea Congregational Church, Puna Canoe Club halau, and the Kalapana Drive-In. Total losses: $61 million. Information courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.


Losses from the 1989-1990 eruptions of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska.

The total economic cost of the 1989-1990 eruptions of Redoubt is estimated at over $160 million. Costs to the aviation industry was over $101 million.

Sources of Information:

Tuck, H.B., Huckey, L., and Talbot, L., 1992, The economic consequences of the 1989-1990 Mt. Redoubt eruptions: University of Alaska, Anchorage, Institute of Social and Economic Research, [unpub. report prepared for the U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Volcano Observatory], 39 p.

Tuck, H.B., and Huckey, L., 1994, Economic disruption bt Redoubt volcano: Assessment methodology and anecdotal empirical evidence: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2047, p. 137-140.