Vulcanologists study volcanoes and predict eruptions and their effects. Short-term forecasting and accurate prediction of large volcanic eruptions have improved immensely in recent years.

Vulcanologists monitor active volcanoes by using various tracking methods, for example gas monitoring, deformation studies and seismic monitoring. Seismometers determine the strength and location of an earthquake by measuring ground vibrations. Seismographs receive signals and plot data in the form of a line called a seismogram.

Many vulcanologists find work as university professors teaching petrology or a geological subject such as vulcanology as their main field of interest. Some find work evaluating the safety of the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

Volcanoes can be extremely dangerous when an eruption occurs, but with the help of vulcanologists and technology, many lives can be saved.

Personal Requirements

  • scientifically inclined
  • courageous and adventurous
  • strong personality
  • like travelling
  • enjoy outdoor life and geology
  • adaptable to various conditions
  • able to keep calm and rational in a crisis situation
  • above-average intelligence
  • naturally inquisitive and analytical

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science
Recommended subjects: Geography

What to Study

Degree: relevant degree such as in Geoscience, - NMMU, Wits, Soil Science - UFS, US, UP, UL, Geology - RU, US, UJ, UP, UFH, UFS, NWU, UV, Earth or Environmental Science - UWC, UCT, UJ, NMMU, UKZN, US, UNISA, RU, UV, Wits, Monash

Diploma: N.Dip: Geology - TUT


  • government departments
  • geological surveyors
  • universities
  • research institutes

Further Information

Geological Society of South Africa
CSIR Mining Precinct (formerly CSIR Miningtek)
Corner Rustenburg and CarlowRoads
Melville, South Africa
Tel: (011) 358-0028

Getting Started

  • familiarise yourself with the terminology that vulcanologists use and visit websites on volcanoes
  • speak to vulcanologists about this career and ask permission to observe them at work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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