Volcano Watch: ‘Your job sounds so cool! How does someone become a volcanologist?’

  • USGS image by T. Elias On Sept. 8, 2022, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff replaced the gas measurement station at Sulphur Cone on the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. Field staff (in orange) and the gas monitoring station are visible right of center in this aerial view, which also shows the 1950 fissure and Sulfur Cone. Sulfur Cone is at an elevation of 3,430 meters (11,240 feet) above sea level.

What is a volcanologist, exactly? The short answer is a volcanologist is a person who studies volcanoes, but that’s not the whole story. There are as many different specialties within volcanology and as many paths you can take to get there as there are tools of the trade. What are these tools, you ask? Let’s have a look.