I really don’t like zombie fiction.  I haven’t watched any of the zombie movies or TV shows.  Even the shows that feature pseudo-zombies (disease or infection that turn people into brain dead cannibals) have me reaching for the remote pretty quickly.  I don’t know why, exactly, I don’t like ’em.  Maybe because the shambling, zero-brained zombies just seem so stooopid.  Why are people afraid of them?  They jerk about with their arms out, and a three year old could out run them.

However, zombies are stupidly popular, so I am clearly in the minority here.

On the other hand, I have a thing for volcanoes.  I can’t tell you why on this one, either.  Perhaps because they are so awesomely powerful and cannot be reckoned with or stopped.  Asteroids can be shunted out of the way, disease can be cured.  Volcanoes, though…   Also, because of the fertile soil around volcanoes, humans have settled close to them throughout history.

One of my favorite volcano disaster movies ever is Dante’s Peak.  I re-watch it on a regular basis.  The human story is good, but the special effects are even better and the moment when the volcano blows its top is heart-stopping.

I also enjoyed Pompeii, a few years ago, for the same reason.  However, the human story that goes with it is just silly (although the historical setting is very accurate).  But the real story of Vesuvius blowing its top in the first century CE is still a compulsive one.

Mount Pelée, Martinique.  By Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1679582.

These days, with monitoring and early warning systems, the loss of life as a result of volcano eruptions is growing smaller every year.

Although, if you’re in range when a volcano blows, you’re in deadly danger.  The pyroclastic cloud that is ejected can reach speeds of up to 700 km/h (430 mph).  The gases in the cloud can reach temperatures of about 1,000 °C (1,830 °F) [link].  You can’t outrun it.

111 years ago today, Mount Pelée, in Martinique, erupted.  It destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre and killed over thirty thousand people.  Only a few of the residents survived the blast.  Wikipedia lists only three survivors.

Pelée was so deadly because of the pyroclastic cloud I mentioned, above.  Not all eruptions generate a pyroclastic flow, but when they do, the destruction is awful (in both senses of the word).  The Mt. Saint Helen’s eruption in 1980 was so deadly for the same reason.


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