Fire And Ice – Dr Anne’s Explosive Encounter With An Oceanic Giant

 In Dr Anne Small



It doesn’t get more spectacular than this! Dr Anne Small has been skirting the rim of an active volcano in Vanuatu, getting right up close with the erupting mountain as she sends us her latest update and stunning images.


Dr_Anne_Small_Polynesia_volcano3This trip took Dr Anne to the fiery cauldron of Mount Yasur, on Tanna Island just off Vanuatu. The very active peak sits about 360 metres above sea level at its highest point.

Yasur is a stratovolcano, caused by the eastward-moving Indo-Australian Plate being subducted under the westward-moving Pacific Plate. It has been erupting nearly continuously throughout recent years, although it can usually be approached safely.


The volcano’s eruptions, which often occur several times an hour, are classified as Strombolian or Vulcanian in nature.

Dr Anne tells us, “It was an amazing experience – clouds of gasses and lava rocks being hurled up continuously!”

Dr_Anne_Small_Polynesia_2477The glow of the volcano was apparently what attracted Captain Cook on the first European journey to the island in 1774.

In a deep gully left by a lake which had suddenly drained nearby, a BBC television documentary team recently found an exposure of old ash deposits including thick layers telling of two massive eruptions that were considered to be “more powerful than Mount Saint Helens” several centuries or more ago; one of those eruptions had made the old caldera that Mount Yasur is inside today.

The excitement of this close-up encounter for Dr Anne Small is captured in her stunning photos she has just sent us.

“A few times the noises made by the volcano were soooo loud that we all screamed and hoped this didn’t mean that it was going to erupt!” she said.

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