Volcanology (also spelled vulcanology) is the study of volcanoes, lava, magma, and related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena. The term volcanology is derived from the Latin word vulcan. Vulcan was the ancient Roman god of fire.
A volcanologist is a person who studies the formation of volcanoes, and their current and historic eruptions. Volcanologists frequently visit volcanoes, especially active ones, to observe volcanic eruptions, collect eruptive products including tephra (such as ash or pumice), rock and lava samples. One major focus of enquiry is the prediction of eruptions; there is currently no accurate way to do this, but predicting eruptions, like predicting earthquakes, could save many lives.
The volcano was in a dormant state since an eruption in 1929, but on 2 September 2009 it was reported by Georgina Cooper for the Reuters news agency that the crater lake temperature had risen 10 degrees Celsius in a week and plumes of steam were rising from its flanks. The activity continued throughout 2013, with the formation of new fumaroles reported in November. Seismic activity and ash emission continued to build over the following weeks, and in January 2011 a hotspot was recorded, indicating the presence of lava. In early February 2011 the volcano sent a column of ash several kilometres high. Air traffic was alerted and told to avoid the area.
As of April 2011, it has been reported that the volcanic activity and ash are threatening the endangered wild reindeer of the area.
The volcano is not well understood, and research has indicated that the volcano could erupt in a similar fashion to the catastrophic 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens.