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Geologists Warn Against ‘Volcano Tourism,’ Tell Eager Sightseers To Stop

By Sharelle Burt

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As sightseeing and tourism grow to new heights, they’re also becoming more and more dangerous. The latest trend? Volcano tourism.

Yes, you heard us correctly. In case you didn’t know, volcanos is a hill or mountain that sporadically erupts with scorching hot lava from the Earth’s crust. So why would anyone want to get close to that?  Thrillseekers are going to extreme measures to get as close as they can. Geologists and experts understand the curiosity, but because the consequences are so severe and deadly, they warn people to stop. “Volcanoes are one of the forces of nature that truly are beyond human power to control,” geographer Amy Donovan said. “We can’t do anything about eruptions, other than get out of the way.”

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Last year, a young boy died when he fell through a volcanic crater. Unfortunately, his parents died trying to save him. A lava bomb also crashed through the roof of a tour bus in Hawaii. Twenty-three people were injured. The issue has gotten so tense that authorities in Iceland are stuck on whether or not to announce eruptions since reckless tourists want to hover over bubbling lava. Donovan calls them ‘volcanophiles’ in her new report written for the Royal Geographical Society. “You can breathe the gas, hear the sounds the earth is making. They want to get closer to feel the power of the earth,” Donovan said.

Tourists don’t understand the hostile nature of eruptions and don’t take into consideration the risks taken by those that will need to save them. However, there are safe ways for tourists to get their fix. Be sure to pay attention to announcements from local geologists and safety boards. Never hire local pilots to fly you over restricted areas after dark. It’s not smart. Back in 2010, two people died in Iceland after a failed attempt at crossing a glacier to reach a volcano.

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