What If You Fell into a Volcano? – Now, you didn’t climb all the way to the top of volcano just to miss the best part. You wanna get the view of a lifetime, and you’re not gonna let some guardrails get in your way. But – oops! – you fell right in! So, what happens now? Ok, let’s say you’re falling. The immediate thing that’s gonna happen is you’ll start flailing your arms like a bird.
Why you doing that? It’s not helping! Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. I’ll explain in a bit, but let’s move on for now. You’ll also get a massive jolt of adrenaline from the get-go. Adrenaline is the hormone that your Adrenal glands release when your brain’s alarm system senses danger. It triggers your body’s “fight or flight response”.
Trust me, you’re already very familiar with this function of your body. Like any time you’ve ever been caught doing something wrong, embarrassing, or extreme,your heart started racing, palms got sweaty, and your face flushed red. Same thing here only the stakes are way higher. You’ll immediately feel your heart speed up, making you quicker.
Sugars in your blood break down, and your breathing gets faster. Faster breathing means more oxygen goes to the brain and muscles – your focus will be sharper, and you’ll be stronger. In other words, your body has kicked into survival mode, and it’s bordering on superhuman. But not Superman, my unfortunate friend. That “flight” part of “fight or flight” isn’t literal.
If only you had a jetpack! Wait, no, it would melt. Temperatures inside a volcano can top 2,000°F. That means pretty much anything but titanium or platinum, which won’t melt until they hit a toasty 3,000°F, will drip-drip-drip into nothing. With no jetpack, you at least need a titanium jumpsuit because your skin and muscles don’t have such an outstanding melting point.
Not that it really matters – you’d be passed out by now anyway, as you fall to a lake of bubbly orange doom. Come to think of it, how did you get to the mouth of that volcano in the first place? You’d be breathing carbon dioxide and sulfur, which, sorry to break it to you, your lungs can’t handle. You’d pass out from lack of oxygen before you even got close to the rim.
Fine, we’ll do this thing hypothetically. No jetpack, no titanium suit, and gravity is pulling you closer and closer to that fiery lake!You should be hitting rock bottom any second now…Make that: magma bottom. You’ve been flapping your arms, and, of course, you didn’t start flying. You do look funny, though, almost like a monkey falling out of a tree! Yep, we instantly flail our arms when we fall because it helped our primate ancestors.
At least, according to Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. His theory claims that even before humans lived in caves, they were more like our cousins the apes and likely living in trees. So when they fell, they automatically flailed their arms to increase their chances of catching onto a branch.
This maneuver saved them from not only smacking into the ground from such heights, but also landing right onto the dinner plate of a lion or saber-toothed tiger! Generations later, the instinct to flail your arms persists, and good news! It just might save you when you fall into that volcano! The more you move your arms, the more likely you are to grasp hold of a ledge.
In this dire situation, landing on a ledge is your best chance for survival. You may think, “For goodness sake, I can’t even do a pull-up! How am I ever going to hoist my entire body weight up onto a ledge with these noodle arms?” Don’t sweat it! Here’s where those superhuman powers will kick in! With veins full of adrenaline, ordinary people have out-run hungry lions.
Parents have lifted cars to save their babies. With a little luck, you just might grab hold of that ledge and scramble up on to it like the soldier I’ll tell you about later who fell into an active volcano in Hawaii! Why are there ledges inside volcanos, anyway? Well, you know how you find shelves on mountains? Volcanos are essentially hollow mountains filled with toxic gas and hot molten rock.
They’re just as rocky and shelfy on the inside as they are on the outside. But what happens if you don’t find a ledge? What can I say? You’re toast! Ok, fine, let’s imagine you’re a robot, so you don’t have to worry about poofing into nothingness before you even hit the bottom. Let’s focus more on…the journey!And the landing…In short, don’t expect to cannonball splash into a pool of lava, epic-style.
And forget about landing and then slowly sinking deeper and deeper like it’s quicksand or something. No, you’ll just land on a bunch of magma. Actually, you’d smash into it! Good thing I made you a robot because if you were still a human, the force would be enough to fracture bones. I mean, think about it: mere water feels like concrete when you fall on it from a considerable height. Well, magma is simply a fancy word for liquid rock.
But don’t let the word “liquid” fool you – this stuff is thick! No, you won’t bounce off it like a trampoline, but you won’t sink into it either. Despite the incredible speed at impact, you’re only going to make a slight impression, if not actually float. That is, the titanium-built robot version of you.
As a mere human, the only thing anybody would see upon impact would be a flame. Hey, 2,000°F is hot! But even “mere humans” can survive falling into a volcano! A Maasai porter fell into a Tanzania volcano back in 2007 and lived to tell the tale. Make no mistake, he didn’t come out untouched by the hot molten rock, but he survived! Granted, it’s mostly because this volcano in Tanzania is full of a super rare carbonatite magma that’s only about 900°F.
Yeah, that’s still extremely hot, but in Magma land, it’s downright chilly! It seemed like a miracle, but – with a little help from our old friend Adrenaline – the man managed to climb out! While it’s never “cool” to fall into a volcano, not to mention that it’s nearly impossible to get to the mouth without a special thermo-suit, there is one more story I’d like to share with you.
It’s about a man who survived falling into a HOT one! In May of 2019, a 32-year-old soldier hopped over the guardrail of Kilauea, an active shield volcano in Hawaii. Kilauea had erupted only a few months earlier, so you’d think people would be extra cautious. But for some reason that was probably really ill-advised, the soldier made the grave mistake of getting too close to the mouth of the beast.
That’s when the earth crumbled beneath his boots, and down he went. This is why the most important thing to have with you if you ever fall into a volcano – even more than adrenaline or a titanium jumpsuit – is a witness. Lucky for this soldier, people standing on the correct side of the guardrail alerted authorities immediately.
Lucky, too, that the man was physically fit. He was a soldier, after all! Not necessarily a smart one. The man managed to land on a narrow ledge. And thank goodness that ledge didn’t crumble underneath him like the crater’s edge had! He couldn’t possibly climb out, though. Falling so fast from such a height, he was in no shape to get out himself.
Ouch! Remember, even if you manage to land on a ledge without breaking anything, climbing out of a volcano is no easy feat. It can be steep. The path might disintegrate under your feet. In short, to get out, you’re almost certainly going to need help. Luckily, while you were falling, your instincts kicked in and made you scream.
Screams alert witnesses, and they can call for help. As for the soldier? It took more than 2 hours, but a daring crew rappelled into the crater and rescued the rail-hopper. They hauled him out safely, and a helicopter flew him to the hospital. Turns out his idea to climb into the volcano was half-baked, and, so was he. All this should give you hope, but it should also teach you one valuable lesson: when it comes to guardrails, they put those there for a reason, so stay on the right side.