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Pyroclastic Volcanic Ash

Watch out for geological pyroclastic flows which are a mixture of hot gas and ash which travels very quickly down the slopes of volcanoes. They will even cross Rivers and lakes traveling on a layer of steam.  They are so hot and choking that if you are caught in one it will kill you instantly and they travel so fast that you cannot out-run them. If a volcano is producing pyroclastic flows in the course of an eruption, the best thing that we can advise you is to leave the area before it does you harm.

These flows are some of the fastest in nature and most certainly the most destructive, what they don’t incinerate they asphyxiate and any living thing that is in their path stands no chance of survival.

Not all eruptions produce this type of discharge sometimes it’s just an ash-cloud sometimes it’s just lava flow, Lava can be produced in vast quantities the volume measuring sometimes cubic miles, it can be flowing very fast or traveling at a snails pace it is very difficult to control although the Icelanders did have some success in diverting a flow from a port which they wanted to preserve,  they did this by playing fire hoses delivering vast amounts of cold water, but that is the only instance that I can recall it usually just too big too hot and too powerful.

Geological disturbances are nature at its most powerful and usually all we can do is to tolerate the consequences as best we can, we can prepare our buildings and reinforce them, in an attempt to prevent damage from earthquakes, good design and building practices have certainly helped in recent years to reduce the damage room and resultant casualties that a quake can produce.

History is full of recorded incidents perhaps the most notable of these is the gigantic explosion Krakatoa, we understand this was so powerful because the volcano erupted under a lake and a vast quantity of water poured into the magma chamber, with the next surge of the eruption this water was turned to steam at very high pressure and superheated, the sudden rupture of the dome and resultant instant release resulted in an explosion that could be heard hundreds of miles away.

Fortunately with modern communication systems these dangerous situations can be monitored easily and warnings issued by local government, civil defense, police, local radio and television.

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