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Mexico’s most active volcano is sleeping … but not for long

Sometime in 1989, I received a curious request from a friend in Colima:

pg7a“The Fire Volcano is starting to act up and we need volunteers to carry monitoring equipment to the top and into the crater. Please bring big backpacks, empty of course.”

Somehow, my friend knew that our little caving club wouldn’t say no, and a few days later—our backpacks now heavy with seismographs, heat sensors, and transmitters—we began hiking up the steep volcano, led by Dr. Charles B. Connor, today an eminent volcanologist from Florida State University.

As we climbed, Connor regaled us with cheerful tales of the unpredictability of volcanic eruptions.

At last, we reached the crater rim. Below us lay Hades itself: all jagged rocks and fumaroles. We slowly made our way to the crater floor where we unloaded our backpacks. Conner was soon busy installing his gear while the rest of us amused ourselves by placing sheets of paper in front of hot air vents and watching them burst into flame.

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