If you ever find yourself falling into a volcano, there are a couple of things you should know. First off, when you reach the bottom, the magma’s not going to swallow you up as it does in the movies.
In fact, the odds of your body even making it to the end of the fall are pretty low. And considering what would happen if you did reach the bottom, you’d probably be better off that way.
What would you feel as you fell into the core? And how was one man able to survive this ordeal?
All it takes is one glimpse at a volcano to tell you that it’s something you should probably avoid. The bright magma that spews from its core can reach temperatures of up to 1,000°C (1,832°F), hot enough to completely incinerate a human body.
And things aren’t much better on the outside, as the rim of a volcano is filled with enough toxic gases to kill anyone who gets close to it. So with all that considered, is it even possible to get close enough to the mouth of a volcano to fall in?
There aren’t many scenarios that could lead to you tumbling inside a volcano, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. For instance, let’s say you’re out with a hiking group approaching the peak of a volcano.
As you get closer, you start to feel really hot and woozy; you think you must just be getting exhausted, but no, you’re actually dying. You see, at the rim of a volcano temperatures will be hitting 500°C (932°F), plus you’d be breathing in copious amounts of sulfur, methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia.
It would only be a matter of time until asphyxiation kicks in, which would cause you to lose consciousness and fall. But you probably wouldn’t have made it close enough to the opening to actually fall into the volcano, so maybe this scenario doesn’t work.
If we want to understand what would happen if you fell into a volcano, we’re probably best to avoid the rim altogether and just drop you in from a helicopter. Maybe you’re an aerial photographer, just about to capture the bubbling beauty of the lava lake below when the helicopter starts to whip back and forth uncontrollably.
Ash clouds that hang out above volcanoes have been known to wreak havoc with airplane engines and flight components in general, and in the ensuing chaos, you could get thrown from the chopper! The fall itself isn’t going to last long for you, because within seconds you’ll probably have passed out from lack of oxygen, and ignited into flames from the radiant heat.
And it doesn’t get much better after that. Magma can be thousands to millions of times more viscous than water, which means when your body makes contact with it you are going to hit hard. Like, hard enough to break most of the bones in your body.
Flaming skin, seared lungs, broken bones and now you’re stuck on the surface since it is generally agreed lava and magma don’t let people sink, at least not more than a few centimeters. Oh, and did we mention that you’d ignite into another ball of flames when you hit the surface?
In the blink of an eye, it would be just your bones and ashes on top of the lava, and your bones won’t stick around long. So if you fell into a volcano, it’s likely that the only way you’re getting out is in an urn.
But, surprisingly enough, there have been some survivors. In 2007, a Maasai porter fell into a volcano but managed to pull himself out; despite suffering severe burns to one arm and both of his legs.
The main reason for his being able to make it out alive is because the lava he fell into was natrocarbonatite lava, which is only half as hot as most other lavas. In general, though, it’s a good idea to avoid volcanoes altogether.
Sure it would take a very specific set of circumstances for anyone to fall inside one, but there are plenty of other threats that could kill you before that happened.
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