As a sort of postscript to my previous post I started to think about other dangerous volcano areas that I have visited and where it may not be a good idea to take a hire car if there is a genuine threat of paint stripping damage.
Firstly Mount Vesuvius near Naples in Italy:
Mind you, you would probably consider yourself spectacularly unlucky if the thing went off while you were on a tourist visit to the top of the crater. But then don’t forget that it is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years and that was in 1944 when it destroyed a handful of communities and an entire United States bomber squadron, which makes you wonder why they didn’t just take off and go somewhere else!
Second, Timanfaya or Fire Mountain on the Spanish Island of Lanzarote:
When I visited this volcanic site we arrived at the visitor’s car park and that was as far as you could drive into the park and there I tagged on to some coach party trips and watched several demonstrations by a sun gnarled old man with a face of weathered leather and hands with knotted knuckles of ‘how hot‘ the area is because temperatures just a few metres below the surface here reach between 400°C and 600°C! First of all he threw dry brush into a harmless looking hole in the ground and it immediately caught fire, while water poured into a bore hole erupted seconds later in the form of steam – like a mini-geyser and he finished this off by demonstrating a natural gas vent that doubled as a BBQ!
Also in the Spanish Canary Islands on nearby Tenerife there is the still active volcano Mount Teide which I visited in 1989:
The summit of Mount Teide at just over three thousand, seven hundred metres is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic. At 7,500 m from its base on the ocean floor, it is the third highest volcano in the world and its altitude makes Tenerife the tenth highest island in the world (although to be fair this is another of those biggest, largest, highest statistics to be wary of). It remains active: its most recent eruption occurred in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent on the north-western Santiago rift. The United Nations Committee for Disaster Mitigation designated Teide what they call a Decade Volcano because of its history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to several large towns.
Finally and probably the most dangerous of all, Yellowstone National Park in the USA:
Yellowstone is a super volcano called a caldera (which is Latin for cauldron) that are so explosive that they just burst open and blow everything away in one almighty blast of truly biblical proportions. And this event would be so huge that it is the reason why previous eruptions have not left behind a classic volcanic mountain, like say Vesuvius or Mount Etna.
The Yellowstone caldera measures nine thousand square kilometers and the crater is almost sixty-five kilometers across, so as you can probably imagine that would have been one almighty explosion! Luckily these super volcanoes don’t go off very often, the last time was six hundred and thirty thousand years ago, but if it did explode you would definitely want to stand well back because one thing to be sure is that nothing for thousands of miles around would survive and the paint stripping insurance for the hire car would be completely irrelevant and a total waste of money.