On August 28, Stromboli volcano in Italy woke up a second time in this summer. Tourists decided to ride a boat near the erupting volcano – but the journey turned out to be “fun”: they had to escape from the wave of pyroclastic flow. The eruption did not lead to casualties and destruction, but the tourists got really scared.
In fact, it was a really dangerous act. The pyroclastic flow is what makes composite volcanoes like Stromboli so deadly.
A pyroclastic flow can achieve speeds between 80 and 700 km per hour, so fast it can travel uphill. You cannot outrun it. If you were one kilometer away, the flow would reach you in just five seconds. The ash in the air will scald your lungs and make it almost impossible to breathe. Temperatures in the flow can reach up to 1,000°C, so your flesh would start burning before the cloud even touches you, because it heats the air in front of it. If the cloud smothers you, you’re done for.
These terrifying avalanches have killed thousands of people in recorded history.
I am a software developer, an ex-road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the planet Earth and science on this website, ourplnt.com. You can check out my social media profiles by clicking on their icons.