Well world, it seems like my blog is finally beginning to earn the name of its URL: the volcanoes Marum and Benbow, residents of my home island of Ambrym, are beginning to show signs of life. And by life, I mean increased volcanic activity. On August 30th, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department raised the warning level from Level 2 to Level 3.
Okay, but what does that mean?
For those of us living on the island, the changes weren’t very noticeable at first and although it is recommended that individuals stay away from Danger Zones A and B, many of the local guides had still taken paying tourists up before. Yeah, sure, the ground shook a little more frequently than usual but small tremors were commonplace on Ambrym. After having lived there for two months, I had grown oblivious to them save for when I was sitting or laying still. At that point it felt more akin to the sensations of a cheap massage chair rather than a volcano releasing small amounts of pressure. You just got accustomed to weird things like that.
A few days later, however, dark clouds began to form in the skies. At first glance these may have appeared to be nothing more than your average rain clouds; a mist hanging lethargically in the air until you could no longer see the tops of nearby trees. This continued on for a few days, the clouds coming and going though the sky never really cleared up entirely, but rather remained various hues of gray. Sunset would paint the sky various shades of pink and violet (as seen in the photo). Upon closer inspection, however, you could just begin to make out the small flecks of ash falling from the sky. During the day it was nearly impossible to discern, but at night you could clearly see the ash falling from the sky like snow. Beautiful, until you begin to contemplate the potentially grim cause of it. The more ominous reminders were the deep rumblings coming from the peak.
I’ve since left the island to head into Vila and while recent events make for interesting reading, I sincerely hope that our resident lakes of lava decide to behave themselves. As cool as it is to live on one of the most active volcanoes in the world, these events can be catastrophic for the local populace. Lava and mudslides aside, even ash fall can cause damage to crops and taint water sources. Sulfur gas clouds are also a concern. Should a volcanic event occur, it’s very possible that the Peace Corps posts on the island are no longer safe for volunteers and I, for one, am very attached to my new home.
Stay safe out there,
PS. Watching Netflix’s “The Mist” is not a good idea when your home looks like its stuck in a cloud and creepy booming noises echo through the air. Just sayin.