You Like Zombies, I Like Volcanos

Pedro Lastra


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,

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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4 thoughts on “You Like Zombies, I Like Volcanos”

  1. Dina Bushrod

    As always, very interesting info you share with us.. But you stabbed me with your zombie dislike. There are several Zombie books and movies, TV shows out there with very different zombies out there. Yeah they have the regular no brains Zombies in them too but on average I like them

    1. Sorry, Dina. We’ll have to disagree on this one. I just don’t get the whole zombie craze.

      But…a caveat. I also didn’t like vampires much, once. Since then I’ve written one or two (!) books about vampires, so never say never.


  2. Christine Clark

    Enjoyed the info you shared on volcanoes! They fascinate me also, even though they scare me, although I am not sure there are many eruptions in Ohio! My father in law visited his brother years ago and brought back a container of ash from Mt. Saint Helens…..said it was good to use for polishing metals. I thought that little tidbit interesting.

    1. It is!

      Also, the pumice stones we use to smooth our heels are basically solidified lava. Same idea.

      I’ve been watching the Hawaii eruption with interest. It’s still not looking good…


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