Episode 014: Blast Away Volcano Misconceptions with Volcanologist Dr. Janine Krippner


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Meet Dr. Janine B. Krippner, a Volcanologist, Postdoctoral Researcher, and Science Communicator, originally from New Zealand, currently located in West Virginia.  In this episode, we discuss common misconceptions as well as important core information that science teachers should be teaching their students about volcanoes. We also discuss the various ways that people can make themselves more knowledgeable and safe in regards to volcanic eruptions.

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Show Notes:

  • Dr. Krippner is currently working on a volcanic ash project linking global data bases in West Virginia
  • Eruptions can have deposits that travel across countries
  • Many lives during “The Boxing Day Tsunami” were saved because of basic warning signs.
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS) is where you go for the right information about volcanoes.
  • Volcanic ash is fragments of pulverized glass, rock, and crystals
  • Practicing and doing preparation drills can keep people safe
  • Magma can still be solid in crystallized form
  • Magma is a form of lava--before it reaches the surface
  • Depths that carry reservoirs of magma can appear at a few kilometers, tens of kilometers, or multiple depths  
  • Janine enjoys studying pyroclastic flows of volcanoes


  • Strong foundation for young students to have about volcanoes should include:  

 1. Safety. 

2. Styles of eruptions (one volcano can have several). 

3. Big volcanic events are more rare.  

4. Know how volcano observatories monitor volcanoes. 

5. How to read volcanic reports . 

6. Beware of “click bait” hyperbolic media headlines about volcanoes.

7. Know who the authorities are regarding geohazards.

  • Science is about creatively asking questions, and never giving up
  • From satellite data, you can look at the shape of deposits, see what the surface looks like, see how many massive rocks are on the surface, understand the temperature, and the composition of rocks. 

3 Key Points:

  1.  Tracking volcanic ash deposits from the past can inform us of how likely it is to happen again.
  2. One common misconception about volcanoes is how many there are.
  3. Volcanic ash can impact large distances--don’t breathe it in or get it in your eyes.


¨If I was teaching volcanoes in school, I would really focus on the hazards and how to stay safe.” – Dr. Janine B. Krippner.

  “Know where to get the official information (about volcanic activity) before you go somewhere.” – Dr. Janine B. Krippner.

“When magma moves to the surface, its not moving into gaps and holes.” – Dr. Janine B. Krippner.

Resources Mentioned:

 National Geographic:The Dynamic Earth,Plate Tectonics Wall Map-Laminated (36 x 24 inches) https://amzn.to/2spj9jz*

And This Dynamic Earth wall Map https://store.usgs.gov/product/206335 

 We'd love to feature NGSS or Framework teachers and experts on our podcast. Contact us at [email protected]. Or tell us what our next podcast topic should be!

Dr. Janine Krippner's Fieldwork Photos: 




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