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Tribes of Science 3 - Volcanologists

Duration:
18 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 24 October 2011

A British magazine claimed that being a volcanologist was the second coolest job in the world after being an astronaut. This scientific tribe also loses one member each year, on average, in a fatal accident on a volcano.

Peter Curran puts on his anthropological hard hat and asks what makes these researchers risk life and limb, clambering around active volcanoes? Are they driven by a desire to protect local people by understanding the timing of eruptions. Or are they drawn like moths to the sulphurous flames in a purely scientific quest.

Peter talks to volcanologists based at the University of Bristol, some of whom worked on Montserrat during the heights of the Caribbean island's volcanic crisis in 1997. He hears stories of crater-based craziness inside Mount Etna and a slide down a flow of volcanic glass.

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