What Do Volcanologists Do?

volcanologists Credit: Cultura Travel/Philip Lee Harvey/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Volcanologists study the processes of volcano formation and their eruptive activity. In addition to studying current volcanic activity, they also study the eruptions of volcanoes throughout history.

Because of their study, volcanologists must visit volcanoes on a regular basis, including active ones. They observe the eruptions of these volcanoes and collect samples of lava, rock and ash from them. One of the major focuses of volcanologists is to create a method of predicting volcanic eruptions, but there is currently no way to do this.

Although traveling to volcanoes and studying them close up may sound exciting, most the work of a volcanologist is not as adventurous. Volcanology and the related science of geology are very much investigative types of work. Much of the time, volcanologists study dormant or dead volcanoes or monitor current volcanoes to see if they may be reawakening. These studies help them learn more about why volcanoes erupt, how they have impacted the history of earth, and how they affect people and the environment.

Volcanologists must also have the ability to be good communicators. When they interpret and publish their findings, they must be able to present it to the public in a way that is easy for those without expert knowledge to understand.