03.06.

1991: Volcanologists Killed in Volcano Eruption

1991: Volcanologists Killed in Volcano Eruption
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 3 June 1991
  • Katia and Maurice Krafft were killed when they were caught in a pyroclastic flow during a volcanic eruption. Pompeii and Herculaneum were victims of a similar pyroclastic flow in Roman times.

On this day, a married couple of volcanologists – Katia and Maurice Krafft – were tragically killed when they were engulfed by pyroclastic flow during a volcanic eruption.

A pyroclastic flow is a fast-moving current of hot gas, dust and rock, which sweeps down the flanks of a volcano during an eruption. This current can move of up to 700 km/h, destroying everything in its path, including houses and trees.

Indeed, the temperature of a pyroclastic flow can reach up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, which means that every living thing that gets in its way would die from the heat. The famous Pompeii and Herculaneum were victims of a similar pyroclastic flow in Roman times.

On this day, Katia and Maurice Krafft were watching the eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan, when they were accidentally caught in a pyroclastic flow. Of course, due to its high speed, the flow is almost impossible to escape when it gets close.

Katia and Maurice Krafft were found dead with about 5 millimeters of ash covering their bodies. They were killed along with 41 other people observing the eruption. Mount Unzen is located on the Japan’s southernmost main island – Kyūshū. It is interesting that the volcano is only 40 kilometers from the city of Nagasaki, on which the U.S. nuclear bomb was dropped in 1945.

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