Volcano facts: Volcanoes have eruptions that can be as powerful and destructive as any nuclear weapon, several of which have been caught on tape. Yet millions of people still choose to come into close proximity of active volcanoes every day and gamble with death. If you find yourself in the middle of a volcanic eruption, here’s how to survive.
Which volcanic eruption is responsible for the most amount deaths within the last 30 years?
What is it?
Volcanic activity comes in several different forms, from trickles of lava to violent explosions that shoot ash, gas, and rocks hundreds of feet into the air. This second, more destructive kind is called a “plinian” or “Vesuvian” eruption due to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii in the year 79 AD.
Where is it?
Volcanoes are usually found where tectonic plates converge or diverge, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge or the Pacific Ring of Fire. They can also form in places where there is a stretching and thinning of the Earth crusts’s interior plates, such as in the East African Rift.
How will it kill you?
There are several ways to die from volcanic eruptions. The first, most deadly way is by getting cooked by pyroclastic flows, or fast-moving currents of hot gas and rock. These waves move at speeds of up to 450 mph (700 km/h) with temperatures of over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). They’re impossible to outrun and can instantly burn you to death or vaporize flesh. Another way to die is when volcanoes release noxious, poisonous gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. An example of this is in Cameroon in 1986 when a deadly concentration of carbon dioxide was released from a nearby volcano and killed almost 2,000 people in their sleep. A third way to die is by lahars, or concrete-thick mixtures of water and mud that slide down mountains like avalanches. They’re deadly because they travel with enough force to carry enormous boulders at high enough speeds to destroy everything in its path. Other ways to die include falling ash and debris (or tephra), falling into scalding hot seawater, and even head explosions due to the water in your head expanding too rapidly from the surrounding heat.
How to survive; Volcano facts.
The best thing you can do before a volcanic eruption is to leave the vicinity immediately. Make your way to high ground as pyroclastic flows and lahars tend to travel in valleys and low-lying areas. While searching for a safe area, remember to shield yourself from flying rocks and debris by staying below ridge lines in hilly terrain. Flying chunks can actually rain down like missiles miles away from the volcano’s crater. Also, avoid breathing poisonous gases by using a respirator, mask, or moist piece of cloth–this will also protect your lungs from clouds of ash. If possible, find a safe house or building to stay inside with a strong structure until conditions improve. Close all windows and doors to protect yourself from ash and burning cinders.
Volcano Facts: which volcanic eruption is responsible for the most amount deaths within the last 30 years?
Mt. Merapi in Indonesia came in third with 353 deaths while Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines is in second with 700 deaths. But Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia topped the list over 23,000 total deaths in 1985.
So would you rather…face a volcanic eruption? Or be bit by a tsetse fly?