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Is it dangerous to work on volcanoes and what precautions do scientists take?

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Jessica Robertson. Today's question is a good one.

Is it dangerous to work on volcanoes and what precautions do scientists take?

Restless volcanoes can be very dangerous places, but it's possible to work safely around them if you're properly prepared. First and foremost, scientists protect themselves by working as a team to create a "safety net" in which all the important bases are covered. Like a professional driving team, a volcano-response team includes key staff who know the monitoring equipment extremely well, experts in several scientific disciplines who can interpret data coming back from the field, a spokesperson to communicate warnings and other information to public officials and the media, and a scientist-in-charge who assumes overall responsibility for team performance.

If a volcanologist is part of an experienced scientific team capable of quickly assessing the past behavior of a restless volcano, installing instruments to take its pulse, and analyzing all available information to understand what the volcano is doing, then they are prepared to work safely even in the hazardous environment of a restless volcano.

And now you know. Join us again every weekday for a new CoreFact. For other CoreFacts, or for CoreCast, our in-depth science podcast, go to If you'd like to have a question featured on our show, give us an email at or a phone call at 703-648-5600. Remember, long distance fees do apply.

CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

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