The ancient Roman cities of Pompei and Herculaneum were destroyed by the volcanos.
As a specialty area of geology, volcanology involves itself in the study of eruptions from the approximately 600 presently active volcanoes on the earth. A volcanologist collects and analyzes samples of gases and lava from erupting volcanoes. The goal of this work furthers the understanding of how volcanoes affect seismic activity and predict future eruptions.
Collecting gas samples trapped beneath hardened and cooling lava involves traveling, climbing the steep volcanic mountains and inserting seismic or earthquake measuring devices into volcanic areas to measure the activity. At times, the volcanologist finds the work hard, hot and difficult when he must crawl into steaming craters to collect lava and gas samples.
In measuring the temperature of red-hot lava flows, volcanologists use a type of thermometer called a thermocouple which can withstand the 1100 to 2000 degree Fahrenheit heat. For protection against the heat and toxic gases, a volcanologist must always wear a breathing mask and protective clothing with metal shields.
Many volcanologist-geologists earn their doctorates and teach at universities and colleges while writing and applying for government grants as they conduct their own research projects. Government agencies such as the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) hire geologists to monitor potentially active volcanoes, conduct hazardous research and go into areas that may be impacted by volcanic action to prepare the residents for emerging crisis situations.
Other Work Activities
Volcanologists constantly review satellite images and data provided by remote sensing equipment stationed at worldwide sites. Their meetings with other geologists provide stimulating discussions and exchanges of current information and new ideas. Foreign governments often request their assistance in developing and implementing emergency response and evacuation plans in case of an impending eruption crisis.