Favourite Thing: Walking on active volcanoes or seeing them erupt (from far away when everyone is safe)!
Merchant Taylors School, Crosby (1996 – 2005), University of Bristol (2005 – 2009), University of East Anglia (2010 – Present)
I have the usual GCSE’s, A-levels in Geography, Maths & Physics, Degree in Geology, Masters degree in the Science of Natural Hazards and another Masters degree in Environmental Social Science
I worked in a few pubs, as a sailing instructor and then as a volcanologist at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
I am a PhD researcher, which means I do research (on volcanoes) and also some teaching (about volcanoes and Earth Science/Geography).
University of East Anglia/ British Geological Survey
Me and my work
I am a volcanologist and I get people living near to volcanoes to monitor them, often using some cool/innovative methods, so that they can make their towns/villages safer.
I love volcanoes…they fascinate me and I find them mesmerising.
Volcanoes however mean more than that to me: I actually get scared by them!! This motivates me to try and make them safer.
My work involves getting people who live around volcanoes to take part in monitoring them. This monitoring can be anything, from just telling me what they see, to them taking some quite complicated measurements. The people that I involve in this aren’t necessarily trained scientists, but are often school students or members of the public.
One of the really cool ways that I involve people, is to get them to use a kite that has a camera attached to it. The kite takes the camera up very high, and takes photographs. These photographs are looking straight down at the ground, and what we then do is put them together, sort of like a collage/mosaic. This means that I can make a map! Not only can we see things like lava flows, but people can spot their houses too – and see how close they are to the volcano.
When people are involved in monitoring the volcanoes, rather than scientists just telling them what is happening or what to do…it makes them think more about how they may be at danger and to take precautions to make their lives safer.
I also get to some other cool things –> at the moment I am helping to make a Volcano Top Trumps Game…maybe you can all test it out for me…?!
My Typical Day
Get up, go for a run, work outside with people near the volcano!
I have worked in many amazing places, and at the moment I am working on the Caribbean island of Montserrat (you can see some photos below).
My work is split in two, I go out on ‘fieldwork’ to visit volcanoes – basically a long field trip. I also do a slightly more normal job at a desk with my computer, working on the observations that I have made whilst out on fieldwork.
I also like to try and tweet about volcanoes, so if you have some cool volcano things to tell me, then find me on twitter: @jonathanstone10
What I'd do with the money
Use a remote controlled helicopter with a camera attached to make videos from the air of villages and towns near volcanoes, to help young people understand the dangers that they face –> I could bring it to your school for testing!
It’s really difficult for us humans to understand things that move faster and differently to us. None of us can fly and so around a volcano it can be really difficult for us to know just how close we are to a volcanoes hazards. By using a remote controlled helicopter, with a video camera attached, we can give young people a ‘bird’s eye view’, helping them to understand where they live.
Also…because remote controlled helicopters are cool…it could make people like volcanologists more – so they might be more likely to listen to their warnings.
It’s really important that we inspire a new generation of volcanologists, so I want to share these videos with you guys and obviously…if I won and got this helicopter…I would need a school playing field to test it out on before going to a volcano…let me know if I can come to your school with it!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Excitable, honest, friendly
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I quite like Ed Sheeran, and then just anyone that mentions volcanoes. So Tinie Tempah/Labyrinth’s earthquake song is a favourite and Eminem’s rap “…when a tornado meets a volcano”!! I actually saw this once (with a small tornado) – sadly it wasn’t very exciting…!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Ever? A 3 day expedition through jungle to a volcano in Guatemala, where I collected loads of rocks for research and watched it erupt.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Better at maths, better at telling jokes, live somewhere warm!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Of course…who wasn’t?! I often didn’t to do homework, because I was more excited about other things. Didn’t realise that homework was important…I’m having to make up for it now!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Getting to talk to young people about volcanoes. It is the best thing. Volcanoes make everyone excited!
Tell us a joke.
My degree was in geology, the study of rocks – and my surname is Stone…
This photo is of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in the Caribbean. I took it on a very incredible evening, when the sun was setting making the swirling ash column go yellow and orange. The lava, which forms a dome, is glowing on the volcano. The streaks of red are what pyroclastic flows look like at night – because they’re so hot they glow red!
Below is a photo of me watching a pyroclastic flow in Montserrat in the daytime
I also get to blow things up – to simulate volcanic eruptions. We use liquid nitrogen…have a look at the video below (I’m in the blue top).
This is a photograph that some school students took using my kite with a camera attached to it. It is of a valley which carries pyroclastic flows and mud flows. If you look really closely…you might spot a group of the students (hint: they are wearing yellow t-shirts…and near the top of the picture – they look really small because the camera was very high up!).
One of the best things about my job is that I get to talk to young people about volcanoes. In the picture…it was a difficult day – as the volcano was very active and the students weren’t listening to me talking about rocks, but were watching the ash clouds, which you can see in the background.
Because volcanoes are dangerous…we often can’t walk to them, so have to get lifts from other forms of transport – like a helicopter. I made a short video of one of these ‘lifts’ below:
Often when working on a volcano, I have to wear an orange suit (like in the photo below). They are called “hot suits” (thankfully I don’t need it zipped up all of the time). The volcanoes that I work on have dangerous and fast moving pyroclastic flows. If I was caught by the edge of one…the suit could save my life stopped me being badly burned. Also,the orange colour would make it easier for people to find me if I hurt myself
Sometimes I get to stay in some amazing places…like at 2500m up on this volcano in Mexico called Colima. It erupted a few weeks after we were there…!
One of the places where I work, Montserrat, was devastated by a series of eruptions over the last 17 years. Here is a photo that I took of the Barclays Bank branch in the destroyed capital city of Plymouth. As you can see…the bank has been half buried by the volcano!