Women In Science: Katia Krafft 

I have been reading  Women In Science- 50 fearless pioneers who changed the world by Rachel Ignotofsky and highlighting one notable female scientist each week from this book. March is almost over, which means, at the end of the month, I will post my reviews of the books I’ve been reading. But, before I post my review of this book, I wanted to highlight one more inspiring female scientist. Really, there are so many inspiring women to feature from this book, sometimes it’s difficult to pick just one.

However, when I first read Katia Krafft’s story I knew that I would blog about her. Her professional life was defined by excitement and adventure, and to me, she just seemed cool…and maybe a bit crazy! She was a geologist and Volcanologist…so she chased volcanoes!


By United States Geological Survey (Website of the USGS) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

She worked alongside her husband, Maurice, also a geologist and Volcanologist. They were more than thrill seekers, though, they were scientists who observed and documented their findings. Katia photographed  the volcanoes while Maurice recorded them on video. So, while the town was evacuating, they were running towards the volcano! Individually,  they were both fascinated by volcanoes and together their work has increased our understanding of these unpredictable forces of nature. “They took viscosity measurements and gas readings and collected mineral samples just feet away from erupting volcanoes. They documented how these eruptions affected the ecosystems” (p 107). Their work also focused on ash clouds and acid rain and they helped towns set up evacuation routes.

There is a PBS documentary from 1987 on utube titled The Volcano Watchers that they made if you are interested in watching it.  You can see them, hear their voices and get a good idea of the work they did; you can even see how close they got to the hot, flowing lava.The documentary also has a clip of them going out onto a lake of acid on a rubber raft to collect samples! Mind boggling.

I can’t understand why anyone would run towards an erupting volcano and this is what fascinates me about Katia. I would love to listen to her tell a few stories.

Sadly, they both passed away in 1991, along with 41 other individuals, journalists and scientists, when lava flow changed direction. To live your life following your passion, working alongside your partner, in life and work, is truly a life well lived.


Well, this concludes my weekly segment of a notable female scientist. I had a lot of fun with this event! I have loved the two books I read and I feel like I have learned volumes about women in science. I can now list the names of several female scientists from interesting and diverse backgrounds. Tomorrow I will post my review of this book and next week I will post my review of The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown. Until then, it’s still Women’s History Month, so read on and share what your learning about women in history! 🙂