Falling Into A Volcano?

In the last month, there was a news story of a mountain climber who fell into a volcano. Somehow, he was found and it was reported he fell 1100 feet. But, if one fell into a volcano, wouldn’t one fall until they splashed down into a molten pool of lava…much deeper than 1100 feet down? If not, why not?

Not all volcanoes are active, or contain (open) pools of molten lava.

I have been inside active volcanoes, and they’re not necessarily anything like the popular image of a conical mountain filled with lava.

Actually, very few volcanoes have open pools of molten lava. Activity is intermittent over a period of decades, centuries, or longer.

The death you mention was on Mt. Saint Helens. It does not have a lava pool. There is a lava dome in the center of the crater that has been growing slowly since the eruption of 1980. The most recent eruptive ended in January 2008.

Here is a picture looking down into the crater of Mt. St. Helens from 2006

I’ve hiked up to the rim of Mount St. Helens. There isn’t a lot of room once you get up there, and the drop down in towards the crater is quite precipitous. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the guy tumbled as far as he did.

Nice article/audio slideshow of the hike

Volcanoes can be surprising when seen up close.
Here are some pictures of the crater of Mt. Fuji

Of course active volcanoes are a different thing, Mt. Asama for example, which I couldn’t get close enough to take a picture, because it was spewing stuff at the time.

And just in case you’re confused by the term “lava dome”, it’s still called lava even after it’s cooled and solidified. If you want to talk about the liquid stuff, that’s magma or molten lava.

As stated above, hardly any volcanoes have exposed pools of lava. According to Wikipedia, there are only five sizable “lava lakes” in the world.

Even then they aren’t always molten lakes. I was at Kilauea a few weeks ago and while there was a huge sulphurous steam cloud coming from the crater, there was no visible molten lava.

Nothing like the paintings from the 19th century. :frowning:

Bear in mind, most of Yellowstone park is inside the caldera of a volcano. Am I right in thinking that Yellowstone is technically an active volcano? I know there have been no eruptions for some time, but does the geothermal activity and earthquakes qualify?

Which is why most evil overlords sublet.

Correction. Your main point: that lava can be either liquid (molten) or solid (cooled), is completely valid. But molten rock at the earth’s surface is not magma, but lava – the difference is in the dissolved (ambient temperature) liquids and solids that gas off when magma is erupted or extruded as lava.

Yeah, it’s a nitpick. But it’s an important one: the difference between a “gentle” and a catastrophic eruption lies mainly in the pressure from the gas and gasified liquids.

As the Mount Saint Helens victim showed, the answer is “not necessarily.”

As other posters have shown, you first need to have a pool if molten lava; not all volcanos have this.

Even if you do, it’s not necessarily a vertical cliff from the rim down to the lava pool. Even a steep slope and Mount Saint Helens was steep, something like a 70-degree incline inside the crater) presents opportunities for arresting one’s fall, intentionally or not.