A volcanologist sampling lava using a rock hammer and a bucket of water

A volcanologist, or volcano scientist, is a geologist who focuses on understanding the formation and eruptive activity of volcanoes. Volcanologists frequently visit volcanoes, sometimes active ones, to observe and monitor volcanic eruptions, collect eruptive products including tephra (such as ash or pumice), rock and lava samples. One major focus of inquiry in recent times is the prediction of eruptions to alleviate the impact on surrounding populations and monitor natural hazards associated with volcanic activity. Geologists who research volcanic materials that make up the solid Earth are referred to as igneous petrologists.


The word volcanologist (or vulcanologist) is derived from the English volcanology (volcano + -logy), which was derived from the French volcanologie (or vulcanologie), which was further derived from the French word volcan (volcano), which was even further derived from Vulcanus, the Latin name of the Roman god of fire and metalworking. The Latin word is of Estrucan origin, but unknown meaning.

Job overview

Job description

Volcanologists research many aspects of volcanic processes to better understand planetary formation or to monitor current and future volcanic eruptions in order to protect citizens living in volcanic hazard zones. Volcanologists work at universities, museums or other national research institutes (often including volcano observatories), or in industry. Volcanologists working in academia will be usually involved in teaching geology classes if based at a university (lecturer or professor), running of laboratory experiments, data collection, and writing of scientific peer-reviewed papers for the scientific community to critique and advance knowledge and discovery. Volcanologists working for volcano observatories and museums work in close collaboration with academic researchers, but day-to-day tasks may also include the collection and curation of volcanic samples, writing of reports from monitoring stations, and public outreach relating to volcanic hazards and climate change

Sub-disciplines of volcanology

  • Igneous petrologist
  • Physical volcanogist - someone who typically studies the physical characteristics of volcanic ash deposits and rocks.
  • Experimental petrologist - someone who simulates volcanic and magmatic processes in a laboratory (are often specialists in thermodynamics applied to Earth processes).
  • Geochemist - those who study the chemical composition of volcanic rocks and gases (see also isotope geochemistry). Geochemists often use mass spectrometry and electron microprobe analysis to understand the pre-eruption history of volcanic rocks and how fast eruptions occur.
  • Volcano geophysicist (or volcano seismologist)
  • Planetary volcanologist - someone who studies volcanic processes on other planetary bodies.


Notable volcanologists (currently active)

Notable volcanologists

See also

This page was last updated at 2022-11-15 07:16 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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