Holidays Destinations, Safety Advice, Hawaii,
Eruption, Lava, Oahu, Vanuatu, Geology
go volcano watching ?
Volcano holidays will require some sensitivity
on your part. By recognizing that the cultures,
environments and economies you visit are fragile,
it will need a sustained commitment from everyone
to ensure that they will have a lasting positive
effect and not simply become a one way tourism
experience. True ecotourism can therefore become
a real help to local communities providing income,
positive cultural exchanges and the financial
incentive to protect the natural environment.
your volcano holidays begin, consider the following:
1. Choose a volcano to visit - (see below)
2. Learn the basic facts about watching volcanoes
3. Learn about volcanic eruptions
4. Understand how to visit volcanoes safely
5. Carefully prepare and plan your volcanic adventure
- are you fit enough (that's for you to decide)
volcano to choose - where to watch an eruption
- visiting an active volcano -
Over 1500 volcanoes in the world are considered
active, but only some of them, 20-40, are erupting
at any given time. There plenty to choose and
explore fascinating volcanic environments.
Visiting an erupting volcano
If you want to watch "real" live eruptions,
the choice is much more limited and you might
want expert help to choose a suitable location:
It depends on the current situation, the time
of the year (climate!), your preferences, your
physical abilities and other factors.
To keep updated about erupting volcanoes, you
can have a look
at the following.
Some of the most rewarding volcano destinations
(especially if it's your first time) are in Italy
and Hawaii. - For volcano-lovers, they are a real
must and offer potential opportunities of viewing
interesting eruptions up close, with only little
or moderate physical effort involved and in relative
safety. In addition, there is excellent overall
comfort (accommodation, food, transport) readily
is one of the worlds most active volcanic areas,
but the grandeur of the volcanoes of Kamchatka
is hard to beat. Many of the worlds great volcanoes
are surprisingly accessible especially Etna and
Vesuvius both nestling on the shores of southern
Italy. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Japan, Russia, Ecuador,
Peru and Chile all boast very dramatic volcanic
regions, but for proximity, activity and ease
of access, Iceland is hard to beat.
volcanoes to watch
details of volcano holidays
Recommendations When Visiting an Active Volcano
Pre-Planning - volcano
Read about past eruptions.
Volcanic eruptions can repeat themselves. What
the volcano has done in the past is what it is
capable of doing in the future. While volcanoes
are inherently unpredictable, studies of past
eruptions at a particular volcano will give an
indication of what is possible.
Read about past accidents.
Analyse what went wrong in past accidents. Two
accidents have happened on field trips associated
with International Volcanology conferences (Galeras
in 1993 and Semeru 2000). Many scientists are
inexperienced when it comes to climbing volcanoes.
Theoretical knowledge is no replacement for field
experience. Ecotourists beware.
Observe the volcano for at least 24 hours before
getting close to the danger zone.
Record the number of explosions per hour and know
what the volcano is doing. Sometimes a two to
three day observation period is required before
approaching the summit area.
Simply arriving at the volcano and climbing straight
to the summit is asking for trouble!
Know the current volcano warning level.
How does this compare to the "normal"
state of volcanic activity. Volcano warning levels
may be expressed in different forms. Warning levels
may mean different things on different volcanoes.
Learn what the current activity level means for
the particular volcano you are visiting.
Remember, most volcanoes are not monitored by
scientists so don't rely on the authorities knowing
the danger level.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence
If there is no current eruption warning, it does
not necessarily mean the volcano is safe!
Be self sufficient.
Do not expect other people to come into the danger
zone and rescue you. Heroic rescue efforts like
Galeras in 1993 cannot be relied upon. Don't expect
people to risk their life to get you out of danger.
It is "cargo cult" mentality to think
that rescue will come from the sky in the form
of helicopter retrieval, such as the Ambrym 2004
rescue of a film crew.
6) Take the correct equipment.
Hard hat, maps, compass, GPS, food, water, suitable
clothing, gloves. If camping out then make sure
you have suitable shelter. Volcanoes can be very
wet places. An expedition level tent is required.
During the accident at Galeras volcano in 1993,
incredibly only one scientist of the group who
entered the active crater wore a helmet! That
scientist survived, and more lives would have
been spared if others had done the same. A major
cause of death was head impacts caused by falling
rocks. There is mobile phone reception on some
volcanoes so it may be possible to ring out in
an emergency. However do not rely on this method
alone because it is very unreliable. Two way radios
may help but reception can be affected by topography.
Travel with a guide/volcanologist experienced
in the local conditions.
Make sure the guide is experienced on the volcano.
Local knowledge should always be sought when visiting
a volcano. On the spot activity reports are more
accurate than remote sensing data. For example
eruptions on Mt Etna in 2000 were predicted at
the crater edge 1 hour before seismometers picked
up an increase in activity. Gas and ash emissions
may not always be picked up remotely. Local guides
may have good advice on recent volcanic activity.
example of what can go wrong on a volcano trip
was demonstrated in 2004 when a film crew went
to Ambrym volcano in Vanuatu. The crew attempted
to film the volcano, and failed to take a volcanologist.
The crew had to be rescued from the volcano after
one week, leaving behind thousands of dollars
worth of equipment, a failed expedition, wasted
filming budget, and lucky to escape with their
lives. The small additional price of a volcanologist
on the trip would have prevented this debacle.
Leave travel details with a responsible person.
Details should state your destination and when
you will return. It should also contain a copy
of the emergency plan and how to activate it.
Some volcanoes are so remote that a disaster plan
can only be very basic. It is always best to be
self-sufficient and not rely on other people to
9) Take all precautions in PREVENTING an accident.
Be very conservative in your actions. Don't assume
the volcano is safe if everything looks quiet.
It may be the "calm before the storm".
A blocked vent can be quiet but the pressure can
be building to a large eruption.
Obey local authorities.
Don't enter any area on the volcano if the local
authorities prohibit it.
Don't try to escape paying the proper climbing
fees, and charges imposed by the authorities.
Payment and registration with the local authorities
is there for your safety.
in the Danger Zone - volcano holidays
Wear the correct equipment at all times.
Wear a helmet and take a gas mask. If your helmet
is not strapped on at all times it is useless.
Even effusive volcanoes like Kilauea may send
dangerous projectiles into the air from lava sea
water interactions and methane explosions, or
unstable ground can result in falls and head injuries.
Beware of many sources of danger on a volcano.
Extreme heat, cold, windstorms, heavy rain/ acid
rainfall, lightning, altitude sickness, blizzards,
getting lost, volcanic activity, unstable terrain,
dangerous plants, animals, and insects. Volcanoes
generate their own weather which can be severe
and different from that only a few km away. Localised
wind storms may reach 150 km/hr without warning.
Beware that some areas may be high risk areas
for robbery, kidnap, personal injury, civil unrest
etc. Traveling to new regions may put the traveler
at risk of diseases such as malaria, typhoid,
food poisoning etc. Take all necessary prophylactic
medication and immunizations.
Getting to the volcano may be more dangerous than
the volcano itself!
Survey the ground on approach to the crater.
Look for evidence of recent ejecta. If you can
see recent bombs on the ground then you can be
hit. Limit your time in that area. It is preferable
you relocate to a safer zone. Some vents eject
projectiles in a particular direction. Don't stay
in the firing line. Recent bombs are black and
stand out from the brown colour of older lava.
Watch out for rock falls and avalanches when climbing
Falling rocks and unstable ground pose one of
the most immediate hazards when climbing a volcano.
Don't kick rocks down the slope and try to limit
your impact on the unstable terrain. Watch out
for other climbers above and below you. The crater
edge may be overhanging. Know where you are walking
at all times. Be careful of new ground slumping
or cracking. This will pose a risk because the
edge of the crater may fall into the volcano.
Cooled lava flows may look stable to walk on,
but the crust may be thin, which would expose
the hiker to a falling into a lava tube. There
may even be flowing lava under a thin crust of
aa lava. Falling into an active lava tube will
be instant death.
Beware of Hazardous Gases.
Hazardous gases emitted by volcanoes include carbon
dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, radon,
hydrogen chloride, hydrofluoric acid, and sulfuric
Gases can be toxic directly or displace oxygen
from the environment leading to anoxia.
Never enter a depression near active fumaroles,
especially on a day without wind. Toxic gases
can pool in the depression leading to a dangerous
Can you directly see the vent?
If you can directly see the vent then the projectiles
have a direct line of sight to you. Rocks and
lava can be ejected at 200 m per second, sometimes
even supersonic. You might be hit before you even
hear the explosion. Lateral projectiles are some
of the most dangerous and can be lethal in even
a minor eruption.
Beware of periods of low activity.
Quiet periods at a volcano may lure you into a
false sense of security, and make you go closer
than you would otherwise. Beware of a quiet volcano!
Limit your time in the danger zone.
The closer you go to the vent, the greater the
risks. In zone 1 (see above) even a minor eruption
can be fatal. The risks multiply exponentially
in this zone. Spend only minutes in this zone,
if you need to be there at all. There is really
no reason to be in zone 1 of a volcano. The scientists
at Galeras made the fatal error of staying 4 hours
in this area! Remember you will be killed here
if you stay long enough. It is like sleeping on
a freeway. Eventually something will hit you if
you stay long enough. Some scientists enter the
danger zone immediately after a large eruption
because they believe the magma column may be lowered
for a while. It takes a brave person to follow
this line of thinking.
[The author does not discount this theory, but
also does not recommend it.]
Exit the danger zone well before sunset.
Start the climb early and exit by midday. If something
goes wrong then rescue will be almost impossible
at night. If you survive the accident then you
may die of exposure during the cold night at altitude.
Volcano watchers are early risers. Some climbs
are started at midnight in order to arrive at
the summit by sunrise for the best views. By 9
am the summit can be covered in cloud and visibility
Observe from a safe location.
Stay up wind and away from the direction of travel
of projectiles. Have an evacuation plan with 2
exits. Mentally rehearse your escape plan continuously
while in the danger zone. Vent migration may make
a previously safe area off limits. Take time to
study the volcano topography before going too
If caught in an eruption near the crater take
You have a 50% chance of survival if you are caught
in an eruption.
Hiding behind boulders or in a depression will
shield you from lateral projectiles. Watch for
vertical projectiles. Fall times from 1 km can
be around 14 seconds so there is time to see the
larger ones coming and take evasive action. Evacuate
the area as soon as possible. Re-assess your knowledge
of the volcano and its eruptive history. Wearing
gloves will prevent severe burns to the hands
while escaping over glowing lava rocks. If caught
in a pyroclastic flow then chances of survival
are remote. If you are caught in a large pyroclastic
flow then your body may be preserved in a pugilistic
pose like the victims of Pompeii. If you are near
the edge of the pyroclastic flow, or the emission
is small, you can try holding your breath until
the hot ash blows over. That is your only hope
of survival. Inhaling hot ash is a major cause
of death in pyroclastic flows. The lethal period
may only last a minute. Motor vehicles offer little
safety. An air tight building increases survival.
(Note: A pyroclastic flow through a town is one
of volcanology's most feared scenarios. It happened
at Mt Pelee and Vesuvius).
Visibility may suddenly reduce to almost zero
This can be due to fog, vog, cloud, rain, volcanic
fumes or nightfall. Be sure you can deal with
these situations. Most people would have severe
problems walking out of an area under these conditions.
A familiar location will become a nightmare under
limited visibility. If you find yourself in very
low visibility then you may just have to sit and
wait until conditions improve. Don't walk off
a cliff and fall into the volcano. It is a good
idea to mark your route with coloured tape tied
onto rocks or sticks pushed into the ground. A
GPS may be a useful navigation aid, but it will
not allow safety close to active vents at night.
Some volcanic zones involve climbing along knife-edge
ridges. A GPS will not allow sufficient accuracy
to navigate along these areas in limited visibility.
Some volcanic areas have few landmarks to use
Leave the area if it becomes dangerous.
There is no point having a safety plan if it is
ignored. Two scientists were killed on Guagua
Pichincha Volcano in 1993 when they remained in
the crater despite getting a radio warning of
possible eruption 85 minutes earlier.
Do not approach lava flowing through vegetation.
Underground explosions occur in front of lava
flowing over burning vegetation. Plants burn without
oxygen as they are covered by lava, creating methane
gas. The gas fills underground lava tubes. When
the methane ignites, the ground explodes up to
100 meters in front of the advancing lava flow.
Rocks and debris blast in all directions.
Look for warning signs of an eruption.
Explosive activity may be preceded by earthquakes
or rock falls. You may only have 30 seconds warning
but this may give you time to take cover or evasive
your volcano hoidays destinations, safety advice
in Hawaii, Oahu and Vanuata. Watch eruptions,
lava and the geology of the mountains.
here from volcano live on volcano holidays and