Effusive eruptions at the Natural History Museum's Volcanoes and Earthquakes gallery

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 January 2014

A three-zone Volcanoes and Earthquakes gallery is about to open at the Natural History Museum in London

A photo of a female scientist sitting within volcanic ranges carrying out research
Dr Chiara Petrone carries out research for the Natural History Museum's earth-shattering new gallery© NHM
A 3.8 billion-year-old-rock – the oldest in the Natural History Museum’s collection – is part of the Natural History Museum’s molten new gallery, as well as golden strands of magma, spun into volcanic glass by high winds and known as Pele’s Hair.

Plate-shifting exhibits come from the continents and closer to home. The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, of 2011, is remembered through personal objects recovered from the scene, while the lava pillars of the Giant’s Causeway columns come from Northern Ireland’s volcanic landmark. A quake simulator recreates the feel of a shake beneath the ground.

The idea is to bring survivor stories closer: the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the scientific foundations of Mount Vesuvius, the volatile Italian which destroyed Roman Pompeii and Herculaneum, are scaled.

“The power and intensity of volcanoes and earthquakes has dominated nature since the beginning of time,” says Dr Chiara Petrone, a petrology scientist responsible for some of the iron and nickel meteorites accompanying a heat suit worn by volaconologists on their heat-seeking missions.

“Yet our knowledge of them continues to evolve. In this gallery, you’ll be absorbed in every element of their existence, from the captivating science behind what makes them the most astonishing spectacles of nature, to their ability to transform communities around the world.”

One of the three zones offers the chance to prepare for an earthquake by choosing the contents of an emergency bag to escape with. Video interviews following Dr Petrone on her tectonic field trips also feature.

  • Opens January 31 2014.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a series of mock-up shelves disturbed by an earthquake inside an art gallery
© NHM
A photo of a modern scientific gallery showing various displays on the subject of quakes
© NHM
A photo of a modern scientific gallery on volcanoes
© NHM
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