Tourists are being discouraged from visiting erupting volcanoes around the world in an effort to reduce the number of accidents, a phenomenon that is partly fueled by people seeking to photograph themselves in exciting locations.
The UK’s Royal Geographic Society is warning that visitors are exposing themselves to unnecessary risks and undermining the work of emergency services as a result of their desire to capture images of volcanoes erupting. Tourists fail to realize the dangers posed by falling rocks, explosive lava, noxious gases, and rocks and particles flung into the air by the volcano, not to mention lava flows that may move faster than expected and can easily leave people stranded. In addition, the approach to a volcano can be perilous; in Iceland in 2010, two people were killed while crossing a glacier in order to get closer to a crater.
Speaking to the BBC, geographer Amy Donavan suggested that the rise of mobile phone technology has meant that capturing natural phenomena is more appealing and accessible. Selfie culture has already been seen to have had an effect on certain sensitive locations; recently, it was reported that the vast number of visitors to Mount Aspiring in New Zealand was having an impact on the delicate alpine ecosystem.
Certainly, some volcanic sites are much safer than media would have you believe, as suggested by this side-by-side footage of television presenter Bear Grylls visiting Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii.
However, many sites offer genuine threats to people’s safety, as proven by the experiences of this film crew who were caught up in explosions caused by Mount Etna in Sicily last year.
Lead photo by Julien Millet.