Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego (“fire volcano”) has undergone a complex, violent eruption process over the last few days, resulting in the deaths of at least 25 people, and injuring hundreds more. Three of those that perished were children in what amounts to be the most explosive eruption to take place at the site in more than four decades, and the second eruption this year.
The existence of this lava flow is difficult to verify, though. Instead, it appears that it’s the pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) are doing the majority of the damage, with reports already coming in of charred, collapsed remains of people. The lava flow appears to be a colloquial reference to these PDCs that’s since been misreported.
The death toll from the Fuego eruption is rising rapidly, with confusing reports from media. From the videos, images and expert tweets, pyroclastic flows appear to be mostly responsible for the destruction, not “rivers of lava”. https://t.co/0aKVtiPj3s
— Jascha Polet (@CPPGeophysics) June 4, 2018
In one particularly jarring piece of footage, someone films a PDC as it rushes down a valley. Only at the last minute does the cameraperson begin to flee after realizing just how quickly it’s approaching. So what exactly is happening here?