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The Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP) documents Earth's volcanoes and their eruptive history over the past 10,000 years. The GVP reports on current eruptions from around the world as well as maintaining a database repository on active volcanoes and their eruptions. In this way, a global context for the planet's active volcanism is presented. Smithsonian reporting on current volcanic activity dates back to 1968, with the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena (CSLP). The GVP is housed in the Department of Mineral Sciences, part of the National Museum of Natural History, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

During the early stages of an eruption, the GVP acts as a clearinghouse of reports, data, and imagery which are accumulated from a global network of contributors. The early flow of information is managed such that the right people are contacted as well as helping to sort out vague and contradictory aspects that typically arise during the early days of an eruption.

The GVP also documents the last 10,000 years of Earth's volcanism. The historic activity can guide perspectives on possible future events and on volcanoes showing activity. GVP's volcano and eruption databases constitute a foundation for all statistical statements concerning locations, frequencies, and magnitudes of Earth's volcanic eruptions during the last 10,000 years. Two editions of Volcanoes of the World (Simkin et al., 1981; and Simkin and Siebert, 1994) were published based on the GVP data and interpretations.

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