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Writing About Volcanoes

This 2013 fiery eruption of Vulcan del Fuego in Guatemala only resulted in the evacuation of several hundred people, who lived near the volcano. Then, in 2018, another blast killed 159 people.


Disaster Invites More Readers

There is no way around it, writing about the world’s volcanoes will attract the most viewers, whenever disaster strikes. Such is the dilemma for science writers as well as the scientists that actually visit and study these monsters. Recently, a rather small volcano in the Philippines sent my daily number of visitors off the charts. Now, some 10 days since the first ash cloud was emitted towards the heavens, my readership has declined back to normal numbers. No doubt though, that another fiery explosion will again send the daily number of visitors skyward, just like the tephra (volcanic debris), which is ejected from the mouth of the volcano. Such is life when you write, study or examine such things as earthquakes, hurricanes, flu epidemics or any other natural calamity that effects our precarious existence here on planet Earth.



In 1991, Pinatubo volcano underwent a very, large eruption that killed over 700 and left 200,000 homeless.


A Very Active Place

First of all, this kind of occurrence is no rare thing for this part of the world. That is because along with Japan and Indonesia, the Philippine islands are one of the most volcanically active places on the planet. Over the years, residents of these beautiful, tropical isles have most likely been more concerned the other major volcanoes, such as Mayon, Pinatubo or Balusan.  Though very active, Taal, is just one of 53 active Filipino sites and overall, it is one of the smaller volcanoes of the Philippines. What concerns scientists the most about this small peak, is its location in a much bigger body of water, Lake Taal, which once, many years ago was an explosive, giant volcano, capable of much local destruction along with world wide climate change.



Fortunately, for the hundred and twenty million residents of the Philippines, there is a place of higher learning called the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Located in Quezon City, just north of the capital at Manila, this scientific research center has been busy lately, issuing daily updates on the Taal volcano and daily reminders that this volcano may not be done yet and that the alert level is still very high, registering a 4 on a scale of 5. Only recently, two weeks later, has the alert level dropped down to a level 3.

The Long Wait

Next comes the long wait, especially for those displaced by this most recent activity. Residents must remain away from their homes for days or possibly even weeks. And then, when they are allowed back into the volcano zone, there is no telling when Mount Taal will again start spitting lava and ash clouds into the atmosphere, again causing massive more evacuations and disruptions in the island life style.


For more info, you can go here or here or here or here.

Until we cross paths again.



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