Friday, April 16, 2010

Dusting off the volcanologists for their 10 seconds

I have to admit that up until yesterday, I didn’t know what a “volcanologist” was.   If you had asked me, I probably would have said it was something from Star Trek.

After the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, all of a sudden they were everywhere.  The TV was erupting volcanologists.

I learned from Matt Lauer that volcanologists are volcano experts – which seems logical enough.   I had assumed that somebody was out there keeping an eye on rouge volcanoes, but never really gave it much thought until now.  I also learned that this eruption is big and important – big enough and important enough to fly Al Roker to Iceland to show us snowball size chunks of ice covered in “ASH!”, which I think just looks like mud, but I’ll humor Al for the moment.

Volcanologists must be giddy.  I bet nobody pays them any attention until something erupts.  And when was the last major volcano eruption that caused this much disruption – 1980?

I can just picture them sitting around in their geeky volcanologist cubicles, trying to get dates online, looking at volcanologist porn and dreaming about the next big eruption (interpret as you will).

So now that something has really erupted, all the TV stations are calling them and begging them to sit down for interviews and explain to the public that volcanoes occasionally erupt and spew ash and stuff and, well, that’s about it because by the time they get to that part of the interview, the entire viewing audience has changed the channel to Judge Judy.

But now that I’ve pondered this for a few seconds, I have questions…

(1) How does one become a volcanologist? Can you major in “Volcano” in college?  Do you just have to sit through “Joe vs. the Volcano” (this would, of course, explain the small number of volcanologists in the world)?

(2) Do volcanologists have seismologist-envy?  I bet after this eruption they were all “IN YOUR FACE, you stupid seismologists” because the seismologists have been getting all the TV time lately, which is not necessarily a bad thing because the seismologists seem to be, as a whole, a more attractive and socialized group than the volcanologists.

(3) How much do volcanologists make?  I actually found the answer to this in a Google search because I had absolutely nothing else to do.   Volcanologists evidently make between $37,000 and $50,000, with the highest salaries hardly ever exceeding $100,000 – unless you become involved in upper management.  Volcanologist upper management?  I’m intrigued.

(4) What the hell kind of volcano name is Eyjafjallajokull?   Don’t Icelanders know that the American media can’t POSSIBLY wrap their heads around a name like that, much less pronounce it?  Most American journalists still can’t pronounce Ahmadinejad….or Bob, for that matter.

So I’ll feel very sad for the volcanologists when the giant Eyjafjallajokull ash cloud clears and nobody cares anymore and they have to retreat back into their volcanologist cubicles (unless, of course, they are volcanologist upper management and have offices).  I hope we see them all again when Mt. Bob erupts.


  1. oh that Al roker....Al Rokerface...The Rokstar....Rokalicious...

  2. Okay now I know why I'm getting these Iceland - Hot women, hot volcanoes in my email box. Mystery solved.

  3. I haven't exactly been following the volcano story, so I totally thought you made up the name of the volcano! Is that for real? How do you even pronounce that shit?

  4. Jessica - It's not an official natural disaster until Al gets there.

    Mike - Always glad to

    RN - Thankfully, Al Roker was on the case to interview locals and find out how to pronounce things. Whew. It's evidently pronounced ay-yah-FYAH'-plah-yer-kuh-duhl. Got that? Me neither, but I think that if I get another dog that might be a fantastic name.

  5. this post is hilarious...I'm sure that there's really only need for one person in upper management for the entire volcanologist profession. That's why he makes the big bucks.

  6. I remember the MT. St. Helens episode here in 1980, when Portland got a heap of gray snow. That's when I learned that the true American definition of a disaster is when something interferes with the unfettered use of the automobile. Horrors!

    I love Mt. Bob.

  7. Eyjafjallajokull literally translates to "island-mountain glacier"... it's a glacier on top of a mountain (that also happens to be a volcano) on an island.

    The Icelanders have real creativity when it comes to names...