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Environment and History

Under the Volcano: Mount Mayon and Co-Volcanic Societies in the Philippines

Greg Bankoff

Environment and History 26 (2020): 7-29. doi: 10.3197/096734019X15755402985532

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Rich volcanic soils have long attracted human settlements, which have traded the risk of eruption against the benefits of higher agricultural yields. Yet little research has been done on how societies have normalised the risks and adapted to living in proximity to volcanoes, or how those modifications, in turn, might have influenced the effects of eruptions and their consequent hazards. In short, people have co-evolved with volcanoes to create 'co-volcanic societies'. By looking closely at the Philippines and focusing on one region of southern Luzon around Mount Mayon, this article addresses the question of how people and the volcano have 'co-adapted' to living in proximity to one another over time. It also suggests that to make societies more resilient to volcanic hazards, a better understanding of this relationship is required not only to improve current disaster risk reduction policies but even to inform everyday urban planning and civil engineering decisions.

KEYWORDS: Co-volcanic societies, volcanoes, Mount Mayon, Philippines

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