Jess Phoenix has traveled all over the world to study volcanic eruptions and help make crucial predictions. What is it like stand at the rim of an active volcano and peer into the heart of our planet?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

When Jess Phoenix, geologist and Congressional candidate, fell in love with studying volcanoes, she began trekking all over the world to watch them erupt.

“If you’re a volcanologist, you want to be there when everyone else is running away,” she explains. “You need to be there when the volcano is erupting. That is when you can get really great data.”

Since her work in the Hawaiian Islands in graduate school, Jess has braved jungle, desert, and ocean to study the world’s volcanoes. By observing and measuring variables such as the chemistry and explosivity of the lavas, the makeup of the volcanic gases present, and the pressure inside the magma chamber underneath, Jess and her team are able to gather critical data about a volcano that helps develop models and hopefully predict the next big eruption.

Though Jess knows her work is dangerous, she believes it is worth it not only to make life-saving predictions, but also because standing on an active volcano, peering into “the heart of our planet,” as she describes it, is an experience unlike any other.

“The lava is this brilliant, brilliant red and orange and it's constantly moving, it never stops, it's like an angry ocean. It really, to me, shows in the clearest possible way that we have a living planet and that is why I love it.”

Millions of people live in the path of active volcanoes today, including here in the United States. Jess believes that the hazard maps and forecasting information her team is able to help build will help save countless lives, as our abilities to predict volcanic eruptions improve.

“We think that what we’re doing brings value to the greater society around us. We want to add to that body of knowledge out there about our planet. That’s why I love it; that’s why I keep coming back.”

This video, "Jess Phoenix has traveled all over the world to study volcanic eruptions and help make crucial predictions. What is it like stand at the rim of an active volcano and peer into the heart of our planet?", first appeared on seeker.com.

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