It can vary, but it’s often just like a hike up a mountain – except that I’ll usually be carrying sampling or measurement kit up as well. If I am doing a field experiment that needs lots of equipment, then I’ll find a volcano we can drive to – or drive up. One favourite is a volcano called Masaya in Nicaragua. This is a low shield volcano in a national park, that has a road right up to the crater’s edge. We have used Masaya to test out new instruments, and also to collect samples we wouldn’t be able to collect elsewhere – with heavy pumps powered by car batteries or generators.
I have just been working on a volcano in Chile (Sollipulli) that has a glacier at the summit. We had a camp half way up the mountain, which we could get to with a 4-wheel-drive car, and from there it was a 3 hour climb up a mixture of rocky trails, scree slopes and snow banks, to get to the top – which is where we needed to be to collect rock samples. Hard work, but an amazing experience!