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Case Study 7. Death by Volcanic Laze

ByT. W. Heggie, T. M. Heggie, T. J. Heggie

Introduction Despite the potential risk to human life, active volcanoes have become popular attractions for tourists and others interested in adventure recreation pursuits. One such example is the ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano and the Pu‘u O‘o vent in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, where tourists and other spectators regularly gather to hike to active lava flows and view lava flowing into the ocean. In November 2000, authorities at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park received a report of two bodies found near the ocean entry in an area of the park referred to as the Eruption Site. Both bodies (one Caucasian male; one Caucasian female) were located approximately 91m directly inland from the ocean entry and were located on the eastern side of active lava flows. The bodies were located approximately 12m apart from each other. In addition, the male victim had a backpack that was found 6m west of his body. An expert geologist at the scene with considerable experience in the park reported seeing no sign of volcanic spatter and no evidence of a recent explosion in the area.