Since 5 days now Europe is plagued by the ashcloud caused by Iclandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull (I had to copy-and-paste this name – gosh, how to pronounce the word…) Beautiful pictures taken from the eruptions are easy to find in the net, also nice speculations like the Guardian’s “How an Iclandic volcano helped spark the French Revolution“, but has anybody thought about the sounds of a volcano? The eruptions of a volcano are hard to get on tape – most active volcanos are no-go-areas because of the fatal dangers that can happen in closer proximity. There are only few volcanoes on earth which are accessible for non-scientists, Mt. Yasur on Pacific Island Tanna, part of lovely laid-back Vanuatu, is one of them, sometimes promoted as the world’s most active publicly accessible volcano. I did this recording on the edge of the volcano during a longer stay on the island in 2004. I had the chance to go to the rim of the volcano for three nights and to stay longer then the tourist crowds who would have spoiled the recordings with their “aahs” and “oohs”. Suffice to say that it was a bone-chilling and mesmerizing experience which is not really carried along with this uncompressed and raw sound recording if heard at normal level – so please turn up the volume for a bigger effect (and imgine the smell of sulfer crawling up your nose)…

During my stay on the island, Mt. Yasur was on a low activity level – the breathing of the volcano almost feels peaceful, like a hyperventilating giant with occasional sighs and coughs. To get a feeling of how it looks like on the rim of the volcano, check this video (turn the volume back to normal before watching this):

Mt. Yasur still is a potentially dangerous volcano, with this sort of activity now going on for hundreds of years. Tourists have been killed by hazardous lava bombs which can reach over the crater rim after strong eruptions. Here is a tourist videotaping a group of people nearly targeted by such a lava bomb: