The 13 ways a volcano will one day kill you
Everyone knows that volcanoes -- and now, thanks to the cinematic wonders of 3D, movies about them -- can be profoundly lethal. But did you know that volcanoes deal death in more ways than one? In fact, there're at least 13 methods of murder a volcano can exercise, other than hot molten lava (and poor acting). Here they are:
13. Falling rocks
Being hit by a falling rock on the side of an active volcano is like getting run over by a tricycle in the middle of Times Square -- the odds are long. But volcanoes are known to shake, and kids do ride bikes in strange places, so, yeah, it happens.
Vog is volcanic fog -- a mixture of sulfur dioxide, dust particles, and moisture that, while not killing you outright, is dangerous enough to require daily alerts in places like Hawaii. Breathe it in for long enough and you may as well have smoked a pack a day your entire life. And it causes acid rain.
11. Hot sludge
Lahars, or volcanic mud rivers, occur when a volcano topped with snow is about to explode. They boast speeds of up to 40mph (and depths of 400ft) and death by one is, pretty much, like being suffocated in explosive Earth diarrhea. Sadly, up to 17% of volcanic-related deaths happen in this manner.
10. Ash plume crush
Ash is soft and fluffy, and if you avoid breathing it in you'll be fine, right? Sure... until it piles up on your roof like an LA traffic jam and collapses your ceiling. Which is exactly what happened in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo shot over 2,500lbs per cubic meter of the stuff over the island of Luzon, killing a reported 847 people under their own roofs.
Because too many vape-hits from the classic Volcano might get you so high that you accidentally eat the foam stuffing in your couch.
8. Plane engine failure
Here's an unsettling thought: Every day, hundreds of commercial flights pass over active volcanoes that could, at any moment, launch clouds of engine-killing debris skyward. Even more unsettling is that ,according to the folks at Boeing, this has happened over 90 times in the past 30 years -- most famously with British Airways flight 009 in 1982 and KLM flight 867 in 1989. Both flights were forced to land when their engines died after ingesting volcanic ash. Miraculously, there have been no fatal crashes from debris clouds…yet.
In January 2012, five tourists were killed and four kidnapped while visiting Erta Ale, a flat "shield" type volcano in Ethiopia. The 'cano, which is one of only five to have an active lava lake, is located smack in the middle of fighting between the Ethiopian military and Eritrean rebels from the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front. "If we don't visit that deadly volcano on our African vacation, then the terrorists have totally won".
6. You could fly into one
In 1979, Air New Zealand flight 901 crashed into 12,488ft Mount Erebus, due to faulty computer coordinates; everyone onboard was killed. And while you'd think computers have advanced enough to nip that type of glitch in the bud, think again: a Russian passenger jet smacked right into Mount Salek in Indonesia in 2012.
5. Poisonous gas
Worse than any of your Taco Bell-farts are the fumes emitted by some volcanoes; namely, Mount Semeru. The tallest volcano on the island of Java, it must be summited before noon daily, at which time the trail get consumed by toxic gasses. In 1969, Soe Hok Gie, a famous political activist ignored this warning and paid the price. And in 2002, 147 people died from nothing more than breathing in the carbon dioxide emitted from an eruption of Africa's Mount Nyiragongo.
4. Standing close to the edge
While you may land a killer Instagram, you've just as good a chance of losing your balance and falling into the crater. Which is what happened to Joseph Bohlig in February of 2010 at Mount Saint Helens, and then again in March to an unnamed 25yr-old man at Mount Batur in Indonesia. Neither survived their falls. Now let's slowly put down the iPhone.
3. You could be instantly vaporized
Imagine a 10,000ft giant putting his cigarette out on your head. That's exactly what it would be like if you were standing in the immediate path of a pyroclastic flow -- a current of fiery hot gas and rock that can reach up to 1,830 degrees Fahrenheit and travel at speeds of up to 450mph. This is how everyone in Pompeii died in 79AD, and it just happened again at Indonesia's Mount Sinabung in early February, killing at least 14.
2. Lava bomb
A lava bomb is a mix of silver tequila, mango schnapps, lime juice, agave juice and… strawberry soda that can get you very drunk and subsequently kill you. But it's also a gobble of molten lava that is erratically ejected by active volcanoes and can kill on impact, though they can just as easily rip off your limbs and leave you to bleed out. This has happened more than a few times at Mount Yasur on the island of Vanuatu which, despite being widely known as one of the easiest volcanoes to see, boasts a viewing platform (and parking lot) that offer no protection from molten projectiles.
1. Tidal wave
Unlike rain on your wedding day, or a free ride when you've already paid, there's something vaguely ironic about being killed by a raging wall of water caused by a volcanic eruption. And it's currently freaking scientists out. A computer model predicts that if Mount Cumbre Vieja on the Canary Islands blows, it'll launch a huge chunk of land into the Atlantic, triggering a 100ft tsunami that would wreak havoc on the Eastern seaboard. There's historical precedence, too; the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa sent a 130ft tall wave -- the largest in volcanic tsunami in history — across the Southern hemisphere. It's estimated to have killed over 36,000 people.