Molten rock from a volcanic eruption can reach speeds of over 55 kph. Usain Bolt sprints at about 40 kph. So, do not attempt to run away from a lava flow. Move to the side.

The scientific definition of an active volcano is one that has erupted during the last 10 000 years. But, this timeline is based on a geological time period which starts at the  beginning of the Holocene era. There are over 1500 volcanoes on the planet but  more than 500  have erupted in recent history.

In Africa, the tectonic plate responsible for volcanoes covers the continent. The majority of known volcanoes are situated in the Arfar triangle. But, during the past decade, there have been 12 volcanic eruptions in places such as DRC, Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Africa and Djibouti amongst others

The death and destruction caused by a volcanic eruption occurs because of the super heated pyroclastic cloud, lava flows,falling ash and climate change.

 In April 1815, Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia. The eruption was classified as VEI-7, which was 100 times more powerful than the eruption of Mount Vesuvius ( VEI-5) that destroyed Pompeii. Not only did Mount Tambora eject more than 10 000 tonnes of pyroclastic rock into the air but it lowered the world’s temperature by an average of 1 degree Celsius.

That year in June,  Mary Shelley had planned a walking holiday in Switzerland. Unusually,the weather was wet and cold. To pass the time, she and her friends organised a ghost- writing competition. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, named after the landlord of the holiday home they had rented.


6 ways to survive a volcanic eruption

  1. Before travelling to an area with volcanoes, research the risks.
  2. Identify evacuation routes and understand the local emergency alert systems.
  3. On hearing or seeing an eruption, protect your head and move to higher ground.
  4. As you move, periodically look up to identify falling projectiles and avoid them.
  5. Cover your nose and mouth to prevent inhaling noxious gasses.
  6. If inside, consider the roof design and structural integrity of the building. Wet volcanic ash is heavy and you might be buried alive if the building collapses.

To learn how to survive a natural disaster and protect your loved ones, book your place on one of our H.E A.T. courses.

H.E.A.T. tip:

If a volcano has been declared unstable and has a history of pyroclastic eruption, do not travel closer than 5 kms from its base. Plan your trip accordingly.