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Surviving a Volcano

A volcano is a dangerous geological event. Being aware of what makes up volcanic activity will aid in your survival should you be subjected to this type of disaster.


A volcano result from pressurized molten rock, lying beneath the earth's surface, that escapes through a fissure or "crack" in the earth's crust, along with lava and gas.  The actual volcano is the vent and the cone-shaped mountain resulted by the overflow of the eruption of molten rock and ash.


Predicting a volcanic eruption is done by seismographic and tiltmetermonitoring. A Seismometer is a scientific instrument that measures the motion of the ground, and seismic waves generated by earthquakes. A tiltmeter is a scientific instrument used to measure small changes in the horizontal level of the ground or a structure.


Dangers of a volcanic eruption:


  • Pyroclastic Flows: These are mixtures of volcanic rock, hot gas, and ash that travel downhill, in which people can be trapped. A pyroclastic flow is very fast in its speed and cannot be outrun.
  • Volcanic Ash:  This is the result of volcanic rock exploding into small fragments that are smaller than one inch in size. Particles can be sharp and glassy, damaging everything coming into contact. Heavy ash rains can cause buildings to collapse and suffocate animal and human life.
  • Lahars: These are mudflows resulting from a mixture volcanic particles and water. The flowing force can be intense enough to destroy, or carry away buildings. Lahars are speedy. Anyone in the path of a lahar may drown or be crushed to death.
  • Avalanches and Landslides: A large, steep-sided conical shape resulting from volcanic activity has very unstable slopes. Volcanic debris may cascade down one of these slopes with great speed. A landslide has the same effect via a gradual downhill movement. Any avalanche and landslide composed of this debris, in combination with water from lakes, rivers, and streams may produce a lahar.


Surviving volcano activity:


Keep a disaster supply kit prepared, including a pair of goggles and disposable breathing mask for each member of the family. Of course, it is always advisable to stay away from active volcano sites.


The following should be carried out if a volcano erupts:


  • Evacuate from rivers, valleys and low-lying areas.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your self from falling ash.
  • Wear goggles or eyeglasses, not contact lenses.
  • Wear a dust mask. If you don't have one, hold a damp cloth over your mouth and nose for easier breathing.
  • Stay upwind from the volcano.

If you are unable to leave the area:


  • Remain indoors until the ash has settled, however beware of roof collapse. Close all doors, windows, and vents.  
  • When the ash has settled, clear it from roofs and rain gutters.
  • Do not drive a motor vehicle unless absolutely necessary. Volcanic ash, clogs engines, damages parts, and stalls vehicles.  Keep your speed down to thirty-five miles per hour or less