Diving with volcanoes

Mount Etna, which repeatedly spews lava fountains; the images of Pompeii from the history book; childhood memories of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo; the ash cloud from the almost unpronounceable Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which paralyzed large parts of European air traffic in 2010; and most recently in 2021 the volcanic eruption on the Canary Island of La Palma – volcanoes are part of the history of the earth and of mankind, and they change the geography of the earth on land and under water again and again.

There is diving in many areas with active volcanoes, yes, they are often among the most fascinating diving areas of all. This is no coincidence: the underwater lava structures form a particularly interesting landscape, with archways, tunnels and caves. The holey lava forms rock structures that offer protection to sea creatures, so that volcanic regions often have a high abundance of fish. The volcanic structures are therefore quite attractive for divers who are happy about the diverse landscape and the abundance of fish.

Because we love the volcanic landscapes under and above water and have just followed the eruption on La Palma very actively, we would like to bring these two interesting things – diving and volcanoes – together here. This small course is about why both divers and volcanologists are well versed in pressure; how volcanoes behave and what their post-eruption legacies look like; what volcanoes under water are all about and how to recognize rock formations of volcanic origin; and last but not least about where and how to dive with volcanoes.

We, the Punkfishes Dominik Elsässer and Veronika Sievers, wish you lots of fun reading and diving!




Chapter 1: What are volcanoes?

Where do volcanoes come from? How are they formed? What can you observe about them? What phenomena accompany volcanic eruptions? And how do you recognize landscapes of volcanic origin?

Lava delta on La Palma

Chapter 2: Volcanoes and the Sea

Where can volcanism be seen far down in the deep sea, and what does it mean for humanity? What happens when a volcano erupts just below the water’s surface? How much is destroyed and how much is created when lava flows into the sea?

Basalt columns in Malpique, La Palma

Chapter 3: Volcanic Rock Formations

What happens to the lava when it cools down? What different forms are formed and what do they say about the nature of the lava? And which volcanic rock formations can you discover underwater?

Lava and Smoke, La Palma

Chapter 4: Dangers from volcanoes

What can happen in a volcanic eruption? How dangerous are volcanic gases for humans? And what does the ashes do?

Lava and Diver

Chapter 5: Volcanic dive sites

How did the Canary Islands come about? Where to dive in Iceland Can you see the lava flowing into the sea in Hawaii? And where is it most beautiful on the Pacific Ring of Fire?

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