Who Are Famous Volcanologists?

Three of the more famous volcanologists in history were David A. Johnston and husband and wife Maurice and Katia Krafft. The married couple dedicated their adult lives to documenting volcanic eruptions on film before being killed by a volcanic eruption in Japan, according to “Volcano World, a Department of Geosciences publication at the Oregon State University (OSU).

The Kraffts, who were from France, visited hundreds of volcanoes in their lifetimes, using their knowledge and images to help develop hazard mitigation efforts in a number of nations. Their 1991 deaths occurred when they were hit by a quick-moving current of rock and gas during a volcanic eruption. A fellow volcanologist, Garry Glicken, and nearly 40 journalists died along with them, according to OSU’s “Volcano World.”

Johnston also died during a volcanic eruption. In his case, the event occurred on May 18, 1980, at Mount St. Helens in Washington State when he was swept away by debris resulting from the volcano’s eruption, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Johnston worked as a volcanologist in Michigan and Alaska before settling in the Pacific Northwest. He was among the first volcanologists on the scene when St. Helens showed signs of impending eruption and convinced authorities to close much of the surrounding area to the public, thereby keeping eruption-related deaths relatively low.